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University of Ulster Celebrates Maths With Launch Of New Degree Programmes

The University of Ulster has launched two new degree programmes during a week-long celebration of mathematics.

The Faculty of Computing and Engineering confirmed during Maths Week 2012 it was introducing degree programmes in Mathematics and Computational Finance. As part ofMaths Week 2012, theFaculty of Computing and Engineering alsohosteda series oflectures attheJordanstowncampus.

Dr Paul Hanna, Head of School of Computing and Mathematics said theSchool was introducingtwonew degree courses forpupilswith anA-level in Maths (or equivalent) in response to the increasing interest in careers relating to maths.

“The current economic climateand an increased focus on STEM subjectshavecombined to revive an interest from school pupils in careers using mathematics," he said.

"In response to this demand, theSchool of Computing and Mathematics has recently introducednewdegreecourses in Mathematics and Computational Finance.We expect more maths related courses will follow in the near future.”

Maths Week Ireland is anannualevent aimed at celebrating maths and helping people of all ages to discover that mathscan befun,as well as a very useful subject.

TheJordanstownlectures,aimedprimarilyat Year 13 pupilsstudyingA-levelMathematics, were designed to encourage them toexploremathsas a subjectin its own rightat third levelandtohighlightthecareer opportunitiesopen toMathematics graduates.

Dr Hannasaid it wasimportant to make young people awareof the importance of maths.“Mathematics is the language which enables scientists and engineers to describe the real world, from modelling traffic flow around our cities to drug trials for the pharmaceuticals industry.

"As such,mathematics graduates can follow a wide range of career paths, including working in the financial markets, software development, the civil service, aerospace engineering or GCHQ.

“Inspiring our young people in Mathematics is so important for many areas of their lives,as well as for future careers in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths(STEM)related areas.”

Thelecturescovereda range of topics including‘π hunting’byDr Mark McCartney, a mathematicslecturer in the School of Computing and Mathematics.

Dr McCartney’sresearch interests include how maths can be used to model traffic flows along roads, and what happens when atoms collide with each other.His most recent book, which he edited with his colleagues Andrew Whitaker & Raymond Flood, is all about the life of the famous Belfast born scientist Lord Kelvin.

Dr McCartneysaid:“π is, believe it or not, a quite remarkable number with a long history. Indeed,π pops up all over the place in mathematics, from the ancient Egyptians and the work of Archimedes to modern super-computers.

“Inmy lecture, wetake a few slices out of the mathematical pie which is…π. Amongst other thingsI showpupils away to calculate π using an infinite sum of fractions and, at the other extreme, how to calculate π using toilet roll.”

A lecture by Dr Colin Turner, Head of School of Engineeringwho lectures in Mathematics and Software Development, focussed on‘Proving the Obviously Untrue’.

His research interests are diverse and include using mathematics to help diagnose various heart conditions and in developing software to facilitate education.

“Mathematics helps us to understandthe patterns and structures allaround us in everything from science and engineering to art and music,"Dr Turner said.

"This talk lookedat how mathematicscan help us explore our flawedassumptions about the way things work and deepen our understanding.Mathematics is as much of an innate ability in us all, as language.”

If you would like to registeraninterest for any future events being organised by the School of Computing and Mathematics,please email DianeMcWhirteremail:d.mcwhirter@ulster.ac.uk