NIU Department of Mathematical Sciences
Non-curricular mathematics activities for undergraduates
Hey, you! All work and no play makes for dull students. Why not participate in some of our non-course-related activities? They're open to all undergraduates, regardless of major.
Are you interested in careers which use math courses? Would you like to learn about some fun math topics which don't quite make it into our courses? Do you like free food? Then you need to join the NIU Math Club. It's free, and you don't have to commit to anything. The club meets about once a month for discussions, talks, or trips. For more information contact Math Club advisor, Dr. Sien Deng, or, Dr. Qingkai Kong. There's also a Statistics Club; contact the advisor, Dr. Peng Shi, or, Dr.Sanjib Basu.
Do you like solving interesting problems? There are once-a-year competitions in which you may participate. Every December we participate in the nation-wide Putnam Contest: one day, 12 problems; the grand prize is a free ride at the Harvard graduate school! Students who have already finished our Mathematical Modeling course should consider participating in the Mathematical Contest in Modeling. Northern's teams have done well in some past competitions. Or, save your strength for our NIU in-house competition --- this one has a staggered set of questions so that freshmen have just as good a chance to succeed as seniors. .
Do you want money? Majors (and minors) in the mathematical sciences are much in demand as tutors on campus and can sometimes serve as graders or other assistants within the department. Please check out the office of Educational Services and Programs if you would like to serve as a tutor or Supplemental Instruction leader. This is particularly valuable experience for those intending to be teachers later in their career. If you would like to be a grader for the Department please contact the department office (753-0566). Students are also permitted to advertise themselves as tutors on the bulletin board directly opposite the main office in Watson 320; note that arrangements with the person hiring the tutor are independent of the Department -- you're on your own!
Do you like to interest others in mathematics? You can also put your math skills to work in other ways. We are always on the lookout for talented and enthusiastic math students who can reach out to others.
Are you interested in experiencing a research project first-hand? The College runs a Undergraduate Research Apprenticeship Program (URAP) every semester. Students can apply to assist in a research project with faculty. Mathematics faculty frequently participate in this program. There are also summer undergraduate mathematics research programs across the country; these are great preparation for graduate work. NIU's USOAR program can support undergraduate research in other states, and overseas. You can even go outside the U.S. for college credit! -- contact the Study Abroad Office.
Strongly-prepared undergraduate students are encouraged to become involved in research and advanced-study programs at NIU and off-campus. There are many of these specifically targetted at undergraduate students, including programs at national laboratories (Argonne, Fermi, etc.) and programs sponsored by the National Science Foundation (REU -- Research Experiences for Undergraduates -- programs). For more information, contact an advisor within the department.
Want to get involved in campus activities? Math majors are well known to be hard-working and conscientious and so are welcome in important campus settings. Many campus committees have slots reserved for student representation; you can have a say in campus policy! Please consider volunteering if you'd like to participate in the big picture. There are many other campus opportunities, some of which involve real compensation (not just pizza!), if you'd like to be an Orientation leader, say (can you walk backwards?) Dr. Kong keeps tabs of some of the opportunities. These look great on resumes.
There are other opportunities around the department, for internships, summer programs, and volunteer work. Contact the Director of Undergraduate Studies for more information about any of these. Just don't get so busy with non-academic activities that you goof up your coursework!
Special note for non-math majors: We receive frequent requests for positions within the math department as teaching assistants, research assistants, and so on. These positions are generally not available to you; if you are looking to subsidize the cost of your education, please contact your home department. What full-time positions we have are typically reserved for graduate students in mathematics; if you believe you qualify you must contact the Department's Director of Graduate Studies. (The Undergraduate Director does not participate in this at all.) What part-time positions (grading papers and so on) we have are usually reserved for our own undergraduate majors, although you may inquire at the Department Office (Watson Hall room 320) about the demand for help in any single semester. All students, regardless of major, are encouraged to serve as mathematics tutors if they are well-versed in the course material and are interested in the welfare of the students they serve. But these arrangements are not handled by the Department (see above).
Offsite Career information:
- American Mathematical Society
- AMS Professional Carreers brochure "Careers in Mathematics," (Useful information for the collegebound high school student with an interest in mathematics)
- Check out the description and assessment of career opportunities for Mathematicians, as described in the Occupational Outlook Handbook compiled by the National Bureau of Labor Statistics
- MAA - Mathematical Association of America
- SIAM- Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics
- Mathematical Puzzles and problems
- Job and career information
- Unsolved Math Problems
- A math study guide by Peter Alfeld
- SIAM Student Web Page
- Undergraduate programs in the NIU Department of Mathematical Sciences
Last modified: 09/19/2016 (djg)