Math & Stats Outreach

Passionate about Outreach

Swenson College is dedicated to inspiring greater STEM in our community and here in the Math & Statistics Department, we do our best to promote math learning.

We love to connect with our alumni to find out how they are doing and give them opportunities to connect with current students and share what they've learned.

We participate in a wide variety of local events and workshops and spearhead very unique programs such as:

Summer Research (REU) Program

For nearly 40 years, one of our faculty members Joe Gallian has run a ten-week undergraduate research program in mathematics at the UMD.

Graph theory, combinatorics and number theory provide the source of most of the problems. Recent programs have had 8-10 undergraduates along with two former participants who act as research advisers and a dozen or so former program participants who visit for a week or more during the program. More than 200 applications were received in 2014 and 2015.

Selection of participants is based on:

  • Letters of recommendation
  • Responses on their application
  • Performance in high school mathematical competitions and the Putnam Competition
  • Reputation of a student's home school
  • Course work

The Putnam Competition has proved to be a good predictor but it is not foolproof. Many students have done outstanding work in our program but did not participate or finish in the top 500 of the Putnam Competition. Desire to succeed, enthusiasm and willingness to work are as important as raw talent. A special interest in discrete mathematics and the ability to interact well with others are also important considerations.

Program Structure

This research program is loosely structured. Although each student has his or her own problem to work on, it is common for participants to work together. We emphasize cooperation over competition.

Each week the participants give talks on their progress during the previous week to the group. Program visitors also attend these sessions and occasionally give presentations on their research.

Participants, advisers and 20 or so short-term visitors, who are program alumni, live in the same on-campus apartment building and often hang out. We have lunch as a group a three times a week.

Field Trips to Enjoy Duluth

Weekly field trips on Wednesdays are part of the program, too. It's important students enjoy their summer so we go biking, white water rafting, hiking, alpine sliding, walking along the shore of Lake Superior and visit many beautiful parks. Watching the morning sun rise over Lake Superior is a program tradition.

On Wednesdays and weekends, participants have access to university vehicles at no cost. This makes it convenient for them to see movies, shop and eat out. Visit our Summer REU Program website for updated information and more details.