This semester the Math Club - in addition to talks on data analysis, stereographic projection and modeling, as well as math movies and puzzles - explored connections between math and virtual reality (VR), culminating in a two hour VR event the Wednesday after Thanksgiving. Along with a gaggle of curious faculty, over 30 students tried out VR through their own cellphones and Google cardboard, and with an Oculus Rift.
The Oculus Rift, with its controllers, provides a remarkably immersive and hands on experience. Students investigated the 4th (physical) dimension with the "4dtoys" app and aspects of calculus (surfaces, flows and vectors) via "Calcflow". As well as the undeniable "wow"
factor of VR, both students and faculty were excited at the possibilities for improving math learning and understanding through VR. Consequently, supported by a "Curricular Innovation Fund" grant, the Department is purchasing a VR capable pc and Oculus Rift to be housed in the Math Assistance Center, that will allow faculty to explore the use of VR, and students to build 3d calculus intuition.
Thanks to the Math Club committee, Tyra Pitts, Emma Harvey, Ryan McGauley, Abraham Freeman-Harris and Caleb Schroeder, for all their efforts this semester! To keep up-to-date with undergraduate news and events connect and follow the Undergraduate Director and Undergraduate Programs on LinkedIn.
-Prof. Paul Gartside, Undergraduate Director
What are you doing now?
Currently, I'm an assistant professor in Arizona State University. I work in the departments of Arts, Media and Engineering (AME) and Electrical, Computer and Energy Engineering (ECEE). The AME program is a joint initiative between the fields of engineering and art, and focuses on digital media and culture. My research is in computational imaging and photography - designing new types of cameras and sensors to better understand and extract information from the visual world. It combines topics from optics, sensors/circuits, computer vision and graphics, signal processing, and machine learning. Some example projects I've researched includes custom diffractive optical imagers to sense additional dimensions of light (such as angle and polarization) and energy-efficient imaging pipelines for machine vision. Here's a link to my website for more info: https://web.asu.edu/imaging-lyceum.
What are 2-3 ways your experience at Pitt prepared you for this position?
Coming from Pitt Math, I learned a solid background in theoretical and applied mathematics, which is very useful in engineering and computer science. I use tools from optimization, linear algebra, differential equations, and real analysis in my research. In addition, I really valued the experience of proving mathematics rigorously, it allowed me to train and improve my logical reasoning skills and be comfortable with abstraction and modeling in my research. Finally, I enjoyed all the fellow students in the math program, I was a tutor in the MAC and enjoyed the bonds/friendships we formed while solving tough problem sets. I think learning how to work with other people in a technical capacity while still having fun was invaluable to my future career.
Do you have a word of wisdom for current students or students considering the Math program?
I know a lot of students are worried about jobs, careers, and only studying what topics will advance their goals in these areas. While I don't disagree with this logic, I think its important to keep an open mind and take classes in topics that may not seem useful, but ones that you enjoy. I took courses ranging from philosophy to political science to economics, and in math: abstract algebra, math bio, PDEs, and complex variables. You won't know if you like something till you try it, and you won't get an opportunity to learn as many different topics again as you do in undergrad.
I miss hanging out in Schenley Plaza or the Cathedral, socializing with friends and only occasionally doing homework! I also like to play and listen to jazz, so I miss all the music events and venues that one could find in Pittsburgh.
2017 Culver Prize Recipients
Colin J. Bredenberg
Dana J. Cohen
Alexander D. Geanous
Kiera E. Kean
Alexander M. Mang
Samuel R. Wittman
John O. Blumberg Memorial Scholarship
Dr. Beverly K. Michael Math Education Award
Rachel C. Frasier