Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Get Funded for Studying....

Hey all,

Thought I would send along a note about upcoming scholarship and fellowship opportunities open to Math and science majors: Two of note are:
  1. The SMART Scholarship: A scholarship-for-service opportunity for U.S. graduate and undergraduate students. The acronym stands for Science, Mathematics, And Research for Transformation, and fully funds either undergraduate or graduate studies in most of the natural sciences, engineering, and mathematics. Fully funded means tuition, health care, a stipend, etc. The term scholarship-for-service means that you will be required to work summers as an intern (tough gig, no?) at a government agency. See here for details. (Incidentally, the self-launching web-ad on this site rocks, IMHO..., at least the first time you see it. But it cycles through, which can get annoying.) The deadline in in December.
  2. For senior intending to study mathematics in graduate school and first year graduate students in mathematics, the National Science Foundation offers the Graduate Research Fellowship Program, a 40K a year fellowship with few strings attached, as long as you study. Here is the brochure (as a PDF). The deadline for this is mid-November
We will be strongly encouraging our majors to apply for these, and think we have good chances. We will also hold a meeting to discuss how to apply and help you through the process. Look for the details to come soon.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

We are a Top 50 Freshmen Advisor!

Well, I'll be.... It seems that I've been noticed.

A website devoted to online resources for the college-age and college-focused among us, eCollegefinder.org has showcased websites devoted to education innovation and advice, and career advice and advocacy, among other things. Their just concluded their latest top 50 list, for Freshmen Advisors. I made it. It is quite the complement and very nice to be noticed.

I thank them for their endorsement, and hope I can live up to the their (and your) expectations.


Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Jobs Opps for seniors...?

Hey Majors (and especially you seniors....),

What are you thinking of doing after your stint here at Hopkins is done? While this question is rhetorical (for now), time flies when graduation approaches. I get many bits of information about opportunities at times. here are a few for you:

  1. The JHU Fall Career fair is next Wednesday. I haven't stopped in to one of these yet, but the list of participants has over a hundred companies and organizations. They wouldn't be there if they weren't interested in what you have to offer them. Give it a try.
  2. The National Bureau of Economic Research, in Cambridge, MA, has a need for full-time Research Assistants, one year positions starting in the summer, for students interested in a bit of research experience before starting graduate school in a quantitative field (not necessarily economics, mind you). Click on the image for a flyer. Nice place, the NBER. Seriously good place to stay for a year.
  3. The Quantitative Trading and Analysis program at Citigroup is looking for Almost Bachelors and Masters students in Mathematics who have an interest in Wall Street-type analysis. Here is a flyer for this one also. And Okay Kayaoglu, who graduated here last year, specifically mentioned that he is looking for Hopkins students.
  4. Campus Coordinator and Senior Hopkins student Nicholas Gilson has put out the call for Teach for America, a non-profit that places graduating seniors and graduate students in low-income classrooms for a two year stint to learn the art of teaching and give a bit to the world. It's a wonderful opportunity to take some time to adjust to life outside of college, and to enrich your life and credentials with valuable teaching experience. The next application deadline is in October. Give the website a look, and Nicholas an email if you are interested. Here is an article on the program.
I'll have others, I am sure. But these look like interesting leads, no? Happy life-getting! And talk to me if you want or need further information. if you are interested in the last item, I have Okay's email address.

Friday, September 17, 2010

2010 Putnam training sessions

Hey everyone. For those interested (and I have just contacted many of you who are), the Putnam training sessions will be held on Wednesdays, from 5pm - 7pm in Krieger 304. All are invited to participate, and I believe the format will be an interactive discussion on techniques and strategies for attacking Putnam-type questions using previous exam questions as a guide.

Out very own Duncan Sinclair, a veteran graduate student here, will run the sessions.

Have fun getting in shape (?) for December!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Surviving university-level Math?

I gave a orientation talk this fall to incoming freshmen. It was part of a set of Academic Interest Panels, designed to facilitate the transition from a student's previous life to university life. My contribution was to make them aware of a problem I see with incoming freshmen in their first math class here at Hopkins: That what they expect for math at this level, in terms of workload, focus, level of rigor, expectations of the student's as well as that of the instructors is really very different from the reality. And the transition shock that sometimes results can doom a student's chances in that first class. The talk was entitled
Thriving in University-level Mathematics
It became more than just a warning, however. I wound up giving lots of advice on how to study, how to treat the course and its components, the role of the lectures, recitations, homework, the instructor the TA, etc.

The step from secondary school math to what we offer is quite large.... easy to trip on, so to speak.

Click on the title link to see a PDF of the slides. It's worth a look, I believe. Enjoy.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

AP credits tightening??

Here is a heads-up on a policy change coming down the pipeline....

Recently, in a post entitled AP Preparation Adequate?, I posted on a concern we have with the way we award credits for exam scores under the AP system. The questions is: How well is the AP system prepping our students for college-level math?

There has always been a concern that many HS programs tend to teach for the exam, devoting much time on problem types and techniques and sacrificing some of the deeper theoretical material development in the process. Here at the university level, where we do not sacrifice the theoretical material, we find the transition for some students to be quite difficult. Anecdotal and personal evidence abounds (my interactions with individual students, for example). Systemic evidence (searching for evidence throughout our service courses) is more difficult to uncover.

The previous post presented an attack to uncover some systemic evidence. This evidence is now leading to a decision by the department to change the policy regarding credit awards.

  • instead of offering Calculus I credits for a 4 or a 5 on the AB exam, we will restrict the credit awards to those receiving full marks, or a 5 on the AB exam.
  • Instead of offering Calculus II credits for a 4 or a 5 on the BC exam, we will restrict the credit awards to those receiving full marks, or a 5 on the BC exam.
  • The award of credits for Calculus I by receiving a 3 or a 4 on teh BC exam will remain in place.
Putting this new policy in place will take some time, but the wheels are now turning. Comments?

Putnam Training

Ever try playing a competitive sport without a good training regimen already in place and in action for months before the game? Running a fun run without prepping for it for weeks beforehand? Take an exam without paying any attention to the material until the night before?

The Putnam Exam will arrive this December. If you are interested, now is the time to start prepping for it. The Mathematics Department, as well as the Mathematics Club here on campus, provides Putnam Training sessions designed to help you develop strategy and practice, getting you in shape for the "Big Game".

Sessions are currently scheduled for Wednesday evenings from 5pm-to-7pm. The will be run by Duncan Sinclair, an advanced PhD candidate here in our department. Training will focus on questions from old exams and the strategies for attacking them, as well as interactive discussions and scrimmaging. All are invited, whether you will take the exam or not, and all are encouraged to participate actively.

Contact me or Duncan directly (find our email addresses on the Mathematics Department website, or reply in this thread) if you are interested. if you are but cannot make the time slot for the sessions, Duncan will poll the interested group for alternative time slots and/or dates.

On to the games...!

Competitive Math: The Putnam

Welcome back to everyone who has been here at Hopkins, and welcome to those who are new. Yes, it is that time of the year again.... to start getting in shape for a little competitive mathematics.

Early December again brings the

a locally held, national competition in undergraduate-level mathematics. Highly competitive and highly prestigious, the Putnam offers cash prizes as well as a very strong resume/CV credential to those who master the 6-hour two part exam. In fact, the Math Department recognizes the best from JHU in the exam each year with an award and cash prize. Recent JHU best-performers have included students who achieved recognition from the Putnam Committee. And our best school ranking in the last few years was 21st (out of upwards of 500 institutions that take part).

Registration for the 69th national Putnam exam closes sometime around mid October, and the exam will be held on Saturday, December 4, from 10am-1pm and 3pm-6pm.

If you are interested in either of these competitions (and as a math major, I highly recommend that you consider these exams part of your training as a mathematician), please contact me in any way you can. We train for this exam during the fall semester, and will be setting up session shortly.

Keep looking here for more announcements and news as the schedule develops.