New WPI Center Brings Math, Statistics Into the Workplace

Contact: WPI Media Relations, 508-831-5616

WORCESTER, Mass.-Where does a company go when it needs to find out the optimal shape in a metal processing operation or how to design a more efficient cooling system? To whom does a manager turn to evaluate the production quality of anything from electronic components to cosmetics? What can a CEO do to improve decision-making in the office or the plant? Where does a student turn to get mathematical training using real-life problems-training that is a reflection of and preparation for a career in industry?

"Mathematics is present in almost all activities," says Bogdan Vernescu, associate professor of mathematical sciences, "and thus there is a real need for specialists who know more math and statistics than an engineer or economist and more engineering or economics than a mathematician." In recognition of this fact, faculty members in WPI's Mathematical Sciences Department voted in February 1997 to establish the Center for Industrial Mathematics and Statistics at WPI.

"The center fits well with our focus here," says Vernescu, who serves as CIMS director. "Project work has always been important to this university. That and our long-standing connections with many of New England's manufacturing, high-technology and insurance companies and health care institutions make this center a welcome addition to our department and the entire academic community."

CIMS will work closely with Director of Corporate and Foundation Relations Denise Rodino, to build partnerships and establish project opportunities between these companies and WPI mathematicians and scientists that will benefit all participants. Companies will be able to find mathematical solutions to complex questions that will enhance their technological competitiveness; undergraduates and graduate students will have more opportunities to gain real-world problem-solving experience and enhance their communications skills; faculty members will gain valuable experiences that will enrich their teaching and research; and the university will identify new areas of research that relate to technical and societal issues. Options may include one-year undergraduate projects; one-semester or one-year projects for students enrolled in the master of science program in applied mathematics or applied statistics; one-semester internships for doctoral candidates; summer internships; and short- and long-term research projects for members of the Mathematical Sciences Department faculty.

"The center is a resource companies can tap into to find answers to highly technical problems that require mathematical solutions-without taxing their internal resources," says Vernescu. "In the past three years Math Department faculty and students have worked on more than 15 projects with area manufacturers, suppliers, utilities, corporations, insurers and health care providers. The creation of CIMS will make the university a model for other similar technological institutions in developing industry-university partnerships in mathematics and statistics."

For more information, see https://www.wpi.edu/~clms

WPI is an independent technological university founded in 1865.