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Math ROCS: A Unique Course
Math ROCS: A Unique Course
Math ROCS is taught by Mathematics Professor Bruce Torrence.
Randolph-Macon College now offers a new
course that is aimed at sophomore-level students who are considering the mathematics major or minor.
Math ROCS (Mathematics Resources, Opportunities, and Careers Seminar) is a one-credit course that meets weekly and features guest speakers. Mathematics Professor Bruce Torrence, who created and teaches the course, is excited about this unique offering.
“The course does a few things,” says Torrence, the
Garnett Professor of Mathematics
and chair of the Mathematics Department. “Firstly, the department already runs a senior seminar in the fall term—so this gives us a spring-term seminar series, which gives balance and predictability to everyone’s weekly schedule: Now there is a seminar talk every Friday, all year long. Secondly, the Math ROCS series is designed for a different purpose than our senior seminar. In Math ROCS, we feature speakers who present on topics that are especially helpful to students near the beginning of the major. These fall into three main categories:
(who graduated with a degree in math) talk about their career trajectories; math faculty talk about outside research and funding opportunities, and travel opportunities (both
and travel to national conferences); and math faculty provide information about practical matters such as resources that facilitate mathematical typesetting, and tips for good mathematical writing.”
Alumni Provide Valuable Career Advice
The most exciting seminars are the career seminars, says Torrence, as it’s fascinating to students to hear directly from alumni who chose the same major and who have made their way in the world.
“We aim to include a variety of alumni in careers—engineering, teaching, finance, insurance, and so on,” he says. “We recently hosted
Chris Snellings ’97
, a senior systems engineer at the Naval Surface Warfare Center at Dahlgren. During the past 16 years, Snellings has held a variety of positions at Dahlgren, and recently completed his master’s degree at VCU. He described the work he does in designing guidance systems, as well as the circumstances that led him to pursue the master’s degree."
On April 18,
Kaitlyn Ray ’08
, a middle-school mathematics teacher, addressed the Math ROCS audience. Ray described the modern mathematics classroom and some of the innovations she brings to the teaching profession. The seminars are great way for students and faculty to meet outside of the usual classroom setting, says Torrence.
“Lots of interesting discussions take place immediately before and after seminar,” he says. “Sometimes the discussions are about a mathematical idea, others are about practical matters, such as what courses will be offered next semester, or what
in such and such a field are available. The Friday seminars have provided a healthy forum for these interactions.”
On May 2,
Louisa Meyer ’12
, a program analyst at the Bureau of Labor Statistics, will discuss her work at the bureau, and how it relates to the mathematics courses she took as an undergraduate.
“We are grateful to facilitate these alumni-student connections,” says Torrence. “This is yet another example of the great opportunities R-MC offers.”
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