Clongowes physics and applied maths students are again involved in research projects with the University of Limerick. This will be the fifth year that the science department will linked up with the Mathematics Applications Consortium for Science and Industry to develop mathematical models for real world problems.
Professor James Gleeson, a world leader in his field, visited Clongowes on Thursday (12th October) to launch the first phase of the project. He met with over 40 students from Syntax and Poetry to introduce the concept of Mathematical Modelling and its power to solve real world problems. The professor gave a fascinating insight into the applications of mathematics in the real world and how it is used to solve problems in all aspects of life and then introduced this years problems. The students in groups of 4/5 were asked to select one of these three problems to work on:
- How fit are referees?
- Deciding on where to invest in a motorway
- Modelling of cancer screening programmes
These are not stated as mathematical problems, they are real world problems and it is the students’ job to develop mathematical models describing them.
Professor Gleeson spent time with each group listening, guiding, challenging, and inspiring the students. The young problem solvers are in the first phase of the project where they will brainstorm ideas, decide what variables could be involved in the system, discern which to analyse and then gather the appropriate data. In 6 to 8 weeks time he will return to see what progress has been made and to formally launch the second phase, which will involve the development of the actual mathematical models describing these systems. The third and final phase will be the testing of these models with possible re-evaluation and re-testing, after which the students will complete a report and make a final presentation in the University of Limerick on the model which they develop.
Professor Gleeson pointed out to students that Daniel Giles of the first maths modelling group in Clongowes seven years ago, who was a participant in the European Study Group with Industry last year while doing a summer internship with him in UL, has been awarded a €100,000 bursary by the Irish Research Council to pursue his PhD in the area of mathematical modelling of tsunami inundation.
The Mathematical Modelling project is unique to Clongowes and is a fantastic opportunity for our students to get involved in real world applications and see how problems in science and industry can be dealt with using physics and mathematics. Special thanks must go to Professor James Gleeson, through whom this link has been established, for giving up his valuable time to take part in this project and also to Mr Stephen O’Hara for the massive amount of time and enormous effort he puts into the project every year.