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Student-Led Conference Examines How Math Is Fun, Clears Pathways for Future Science Discoveries

April 13, 2012

Student- and faculty-led presentations at this weekend's Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology's Conference on Undergraduate Mathematics showcases how mathematics is fun, interesting, and clears pathways for future scientific discoveries.  Sessions are scheduled from 1:30-8 p.m. on Friday, April 13, and 9 a.m. to 12:10 p.m. on Saturday, April 14. 


LEGO Master: Andy Milluzzi, a senior computer engineering and software engineering student, is one of 50 LEGO MINDSTORM Community Partners in the world and makes large-scale LEGO-based projects to attract youths towards possible careers in engineering, science, and math.  He will make a presentation on  "LEGO: The Intersection of Art and Engineering" at this weekend's Rose-Hulman Conference on Undergraduate Mathematics.

Andrew Milluzzi, a senior computer engineering and software engineering student at Rose-Hulman, will make a featured presentation on the topic "LEGO: The Intersection of Art and Engineering," while Kenyon College Mathematics Professor Judy Holdener will discuss "Why Math is Fun: Convergence, Connections, and the Great Unknown."

Now in its 29th year, the conference celebrates scholarly work being accomplished by undergraduate mathematicians in class projects and research experiences.  Eighteen presentations this year will feature students from 12 colleges and universities, including five talks by Rose-Hulman students and Milluzzi's invited session.  He will examine how small LEGO bricks can create spectacular large-scale displays that captivate youths and get them interested in math, engineering, and science.

Milluzzi is one of 50 engineers, scientists, artists, and inventors that are LEGO MINDSTORM Community Partners. He travels throughout the world working with children and adults on a variety of LEGO projects.

Meanwhile, Holdener's opening presentation will showcase why she finds mathematics to be so much fun, and will share some surprising geometric, algebraic, and geometric connections that she has discovered with her students. She will also present some research done by her students and reveal how their work connects to the work of Archimedes, Marston Morse, Axel Thue, and Helge von Koch.

Another presentation by Holdener will discuss "Perfect and Abundant Numbers -- a Perfect and Abundant Source for Undergraduate Research Projects."

Judy Holdener of Kenyon College


Holdener has collaborated with students on research projects relating to algebra, number theory, dynamical systems, and mathematical biology. She was awarded the Mathematical Association of America Ohio Section's Distinguished Teaching Award in 2008 after receiving Kenyon's Tomsich Science Award in 2003. She joined Kenyon's math faculty in 1997 after three years teaching at the U.S. Air Force Academy.

Rose-Hulman students making contributed presentations will be Trenton Tabor, a senior mechanical engineering and economics student, on "Building Predictive Models in Absence of Theory: An Application of the LASSO Variable Selection Technique to Student Persistence"; Tabor will also join junior math major Chase Mathison and senior physics student James Folberth in a talk on "Hortonian Scaling of Maximum Flow in Non-idealized River Basins"; and Jill Shuman, a sophomore physics major, will discuss "Optimizing Beam Selection in Radiotherapy."

Andrew Harris, a senior math and physics major, will make a presentation on "A Mathematical Model for the Baking Process -- A Phenomenological Approach," while senior biomedical engineering student Jacki Simon will talk about "Robustness Test for a Protein Alignment Algorithm."

Other students making presentations will be Adam Lewis of Mercer University, on "Pascal to the Rescue"; Mark Woods of Millikin University, on "Good or Bad: Altering Admission Standards"; Scott Rexford of Northern Illinois University, on "To Construct a Hyperbolic Triangle. . ."; David Irwin of Miami University (OH), on "d-Nice Numbers"; and Morgan Perkins of Millikin, on "Predicting Retention of Marginally Admitted Students."

Also, Matthew Harris of the University of Evansville, on "Mercury Pollution Modeling Around the A.B. Brown and Gibson Generating Stations"; Lane Bloome of Millikin University, on "Connections Between Central Sets and Cut Sets in Zero-Divisor Graphs of Commutative Rings"; Aaron Davis of Southwest Baptist, on "Statistical Analysis of Prime Factors"; and Meagan Ryan of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College, on "Understanding Coulomb Potential: An Unproven Array of Points."

Finally, Chelsey Barron of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, on "Breaking Down the Riemann Hypothesis"; Jackie Buhrman of Millikin, "The U.S. Life Insurance Industry: Time Series Analysis" and Joseph Gasper of Kent State University, "An Introduction to Object Oriented Design Principles and Their Benefit to Mathematicians."

University of Iowa graduate students Michael Fitzpatrick and Trenton Schirmer will join Greg Zynda of Indiana University and Brian Shroud of University of Notre Dame on a panel discussion providing valuable information for students interested studying math at the graduate-school level. Brad Jones, a 2005 Rose-Hulman alumnus, will provide advice for students seeking careers in actuarial science.  He is a consulting actuary for McCready and Keene, Inc.

This year's conference has been organized by mathematics professors Leanne Holder and Diane Evans, and assisted by Department of Mathematics Secretary Michelle Prather.  Learn more about the conference at