Four Clarkson undergraduate students presented results of their research at Mathfest, the national flagship conference of Mathematical Association of America (MAA), held in Cincinnati, OH from Jul 31 to Aug 3, 2019.

These students were among 15 students, majoring in mathematical and engineering disciplines, that participated in the pilot offering of the Mathematical Consulting class (STAT488), taught by Dr. Marko Budišić, Assistant Professor of Mathematics, in Spring 2019. This class is a part of a nation-wide MAA program, Preparation for Industrial Careers in Mathematics (PICMath) that aims to connect students in mathematical sciences with industrial partners in order to enable students to work on real industry problem, and highlight the range of careers in business, industry, and government that have a need for hiring students with majors and minors in mathematical sciences.

Clarkson students’ industry partner was Clarkson’s own University Engineer Michael Tremper from Plants Operations and Maintenance who formulated two specific projects of interest: (a) determining where the campus should purchase electrical energy once its contract expired in July 2019, and (b) analyze and optimize the joint operation of the two hydropower plants on Raquette river in downtown Potsdam. Over the course of the semester, students visited the power plants run by Village of Potsdam, studied the Raquette river cross-sections, and processed the actual operations data and purchasing data from Clarkson’s accounts and Village logs. Based on this information, students generated mathematical models (equations and algorithms) that enabled them to test various strategies for purchasing and generation of electricity.

The results of the research were first presented internally to James Fish, Clarkson CFO, Susan Powers, Director of Institute for Sustainable Environment, and Ben Galluzzo, Associate Professor of Institute for STEM Education. At MAA Mathfest Noah Chicoine gave an oral presentation of his team’s research to the session organized by Pi Mu Epsilon, a mathematics honorary society, while A. Reese Madsen, Matt Rodman, and Alissa Satterfield, gave a poster presentation as in the official PICMath session. Several graduating seniors that participated in the class stated that their experience in mathematical consulting gave them an edge during hiring interviews this past Spring.

Dr. Budišić and the PICMath program acknowledge the support from the National Science Foundation (NSF grant DMS-1722275) and the National Security Agency (NSA), while Noah Chicoine additionally acknowledges Pi Mu Epsilon’s financial support for traveling to MAA Mathfest. The entire class additionally appreciates the input received from CFO Fish, Dr. Powers and Dr. Galluzzo, power plant operators working for the Village of Potsdam, and especially Michael Tremper’s dedicated mentoring and feedback throughout the semester.

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