Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Meeting Paul

In yesterdays post (well today at some unearthly hour of the morning, if you were to be picky), I mentioned a man named Paul from the IMA. (Named by yours truly of course...). Today at 4pm I was supposed to meet Paul, but due to various constraints I informed him that I would be at least 10 minutes late.

I did manage to turn up on time (phew), but asked him to give me a few minutes as I spotted Dr. C, with who I needed to discuss something. In my haste I nearly stumbled on the stairs, but thankfully no scene was created.

Paul's a nice guy. He was friendly and easy to get along with, and didn't comment on the speed of my voice! Not that a mind when someone does mention how fast I talk, but given the amount of times it has been said to me, one tends to expect it from everyone...

So what did we talk about? General things, the IMA, maths, the IMA, his role etc. The Institute for Mathematics and its Applications, to me, is an organisation for lecturers or postgraduate students (especially those who have joined the \sout{dark}applied side!) A lot of "hot air" surrounds the issue of student involvement I feel, and that is where Paul steps in. His role (amongst many) is to promote the IMA amongst students.

Well that's what I think it boils down to anyway. I can't quite get my finger on what I want to say, but I'm not sure if my feelings about generating and maintaining some sort of mathematical culture is the IMA's main aim. Obviously it can't be the IMA's main aim, but I don't know how serious they are about this issue. Do they just want to increase their student numbers?

One good thing that Paul's trying to do, is to get people from various mathematical societies together. I got some inspiration for The Galois Group from Warwick's Maths Society and The Archimedians (Cambridge Maths Society) hence I feel it is a good idea. In this way we can share ideas and learn things from one another. However, this is still a "developing idea".

The question I am asking is that how can the IMA benefit students? If they want to create an "raising awareness" campaign to students, what do they have to offer? What's their product, and why should students be interested? We discussed Mathematics Today (the IMA's magazine), but that's not going to sell to students.

OK so I am the IMA. Maybe I want to increase student members, or maybe I want to promote mathematics amongst undergraduate communities(1), so that more students remain with the maths. What else could I want from students? Are we interested in students money? No, I would think not. Or maybe I could just want to raise awareness of the application of mathematics to students, especially those who are not aware of what they can do with their degree(2).

So we have our to do list. Increasing student numbers is at the top, but to do that we have to work on the branches, (1) and (2).

To promote mathematics amongst undergrads in every university in the UK is slightly unrealistic, so we'll get into touch with their student Mathematics society and find out what they are currently doing. Is it important to do this for all 90 or so universities? I would say yes and make it a point to do this, even in the smaller departments. Then we look at how the IMA can help the mathematics societies to create an undergraduate culture of some sort. Getting to this stage allows us (the IMA) to also raise awareness about ourselves by maybe doing the following: introducing a general audience lecture, sponsoring a lecture, having a stall near the refreshments area looked after by the mathematics society and many other things (which I can't think of at the moment).

By doing this students will at least be exposed to the IMA and know who they are as opposed to usual blank response. (Then again I am asking "should they know"?). However, this only applies to those who attend such lectures! (Whoops). Say Manchester was my target and we wanted to generate as much awareness as possible amongst 1000 students. I would say give up chuck, unless you are in for the long ride! Only kidding... seriously.

I better stop being the IMA now, and leave branch (2) alone. (I say this because a quick glance at the time reminds me of the logic coursework I have to do for tomorrow!)

My problem is that I enjoy thinking about such things and trying to do something about them too. Note I did say problem, for then I lose focus sometimes.

I am meant to be a student from Manchester who helps raise awareness about the IMA (unofficially I think). However, as you can tell from this confusing post I am confused on my own stance regarding this issue. At the end of the day, does it matter what the ulterior motive is?

Anyway, Paul was cool so I am slightly in favour of the IMA at the moment. Any students out there who are thinking "what the heck is this beans going about", relax and join the IMA. It is only £10 a year for student membership and you will receive six copies of Mathematics Today for a year. You also get a fancy certificate I believe, but no freebies yet! (£10 point isn't that much money actually--The Gazette charged £25!)

AOB: I am really concerned about next Wednesday now. We have really fallen behind in what has to be done, and I worry as per usual. By the way, tomorrow is somewhat of a big day for The Galois Group--it would be nice if you could keep your fingers crossed for us! Since we are on the topic, The Head of School (Professor Glendenning has agreed to do the introductions for the final Galois Group lecture, hence why it is even more important that YOU attend. Please... I don't want there to be only 10 people present. The Tweenies have already sent their apologies: "revision" pft. But no beans, say nothing. Zip. My mouth is out of service now. Disappointedly so, but what can one do?

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