Students in mathematics urged to see their career outside academia

25 mars 2019

The Department of Mathematics under the University of Rwanda College of Science and Technology concluded a week long modelling week training. The training was supported by UR-Sweden Programme through its Mathematics and Applied Science subprogramme and brought together MSc students from four countries. The aim of the training was to equip students with real world problem solving skills that featured mathematical challenge and introduction to questions from industry and other development tasks in modern society.

Among participants in the training was Ms Elizabeth Mrema from the University of Dar es Salaam. She witnessed the training as a key enabler to different ways of writing models, understanding the problems and simulate solutions which are applicable for industries and real life. Mrema also plans to use acquired skills and make related publications.

Elizabeth Mrema (R) from the University of Dar es Salaam

“Right now I am working on industry related problems and will continue until I can eventually publish a paper out of it” said Mrema a MSc student who is also a tutorial assistant in the department of mathematics at her University.

Mrema went on calling for connection and partnership between varsities and industries. According to her, the move would boost employability skills for graduates. Mrema said that the partnership will see students identifying problems of industries and would use them as case studies for their research projects which would ultimately tackle some of the problems the industry is facing.

Speaking on the occasion, Prof Matti Heilio one of the instructors from Lappeenranta University of Technology in Finland said that the training was organized because mathematics education in many universities are very theoretical. In the training, the student task was to put practical problem formulated in mathematics and simulate solutions to help improving existing systems, increase reliability and understand better how the systems are working.

“Mathematics students learn a lot in books, algorithms and they seldom see how the theory can be put in practice to help development in society in many disciplines including medicine, biology etc.” Prof Heilio said.

Prof Matti Heilio ; an Instructor from Lappeenranta University of Technology in Finland

Heilio urged universities to emphasize on problem based learning approach while teaching mathematics and give students experience about what practical mathematics means while encouraging them to see their career outside academia.

“Mathematics subject is often understood as something where student come and learn and then go back to school to teach,” he stated, adding that people should see the discipline as a resource for the whole society in different fields like research institutes, insurance firms, bank, hospitals and others.

The training was organized under the network of East African Universities Mathematics Programme. It included students from University of Rwanda, Makerere University, Dar es Salaam University and University of Nairobi. It was facilitated by academics from the University of Rwanda, Lappeenranta University of Technology- Finland and Linköping University-Sweden.

MSc students and facilitators pose for a group photo