Mathematical Association of America Preparation for Industrial Careers in Mathematics Program
Joliet, Ill. – Mathematics students from the University of St. Francis (USF) will have the chance to team up with their peers from Dominican University (DU) to participate in a unique experiential learning opportunity as part of the Mathematical Association of America (MAA) Preparation for Industrial Careers in Mathematics (PIC Math) program. The opportunity will challenge students (in a group setting) to examine a semester-long undergraduate research problem presented by a partner from the business, industry, or government sector. This type of research is recognized as a high impact teaching and learning practice as it strengthens students’ abilities in the areas of problem solving, critical and independent thinking, and communicating, all of which deemed highly-valuable by employers of STEM professionals. “It is exciting that our program is creating these sorts of experiential learning opportunities that students can engage in as soon as this academic year,” said Angela Antonou, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Mathematics at USF. The opportunity resulted from a successful competitive grant application submitted by Antonou and Aaron Zerhusen, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Mathematics at Dominican University. “Dr. Zerhusen and I worked collaboratively in writing the grant proposal. We highlighted our diverse student population, my extensive experience in overseeing undergraduate research (mostly in pure mathematics), and his background in predictive analytics. We emphasized the benefit to both the faculty and students at each institution: increased experience in and knowledge of applications of mathematics for both students and faculty, greater ability to advise students seeking applied fields, enhanced ability for faculty to oversee future undergraduate research projects in applied mathematics, among others,” Antonou said. One of the initial stages of the partnership between USF and Dominican University will involve the recruitment of students from both universities to work on the undergraduate research project with the industrial partner in the spring. Students will then prepare for project participation through regular academic coursework, as well as through participation in topics courses that apply major elective credit for them. Once the project formally begins, Antonou and Zerhusen will connect regularly to ensure their respective students remain on track with their work. “Dr. Zerhusen and I will be meeting regularly to discuss progress and to perform assessment of student outcomes toward successful completion of the project. Our students will meet weekly with the DU students to strategize, discuss their findings, and set weekly goals. Then the groups will work at their home institutions the rest of the week to try to meet the goals established in those collaborative weekly meetings.  In this way, they will engage in a more genuine experience of the process of collaborative research,” Antonou offered. Antonou added that the first research collaboration with undergraduate students and an industrial partner (which will be identified in the coming months) will begin in Spring 2024. In preparation for the inaugural collaboration, Antonou and Zerhusen will participate in a virtual training workshop next month. About MAA PIC Math According to, PIC Math “prepares mathematical sciences students for industrial careers by engaging them in research problems that come directly from industry.” Specifically, the PIC Math program aims to:
  • increase awareness among mathematical sciences faculty and undergraduates about non-academic career options;
  • teach faculty how to make industry connections in order to provide research experiences for their students to work on real problems coming directly from business, industry, or government, and;
  • prepare students for industrial careers.
Visit to learn more about the MAA PIC Math program. : : The University of St. Francis, in Joliet, Ill., serves close to 4,000 students nationwide and offers undergraduate, graduate, doctoral and certificate programs in the arts and sciences, business, education, nursing and social work. There are over 54,000 USF alumni across the globe. For information, call 800-735-7500 or visit University of St. Francis: Bigger thinking. Brighter purpose. # # #