While companies like Qualcomm Inc. and YouTube are eager to hire students with backgrounds in applied mathematics and other technologically rich areas, attracting top professors in the field of applied mathematics is becoming increasingly challenging and competitive.
But a $1 million gift from the Pasadena-based Fletcher Jones Foundation to create an endowed chair in applied mathematics will allow the University of San Diego to hire an outstanding professor to enhance its applied mathematics program and create opportunities for more students.
“We are very excited and grateful that the Fletcher Jones Foundation shares our vision for a program designed to address real-world problems arising in the physical, life and social sciences as well as computing and engineering,” said Mary Boyd, dean of USD’s College of Arts and Sciences. “We know this type of program is essential for innovation, discovery and advancement in all areas impacting society.”
Recognizing that mathematics is the language that connects theory to practice, the Fletcher Jones Foundation Endowed Professor in Applied Mathematics will support an applied, integrated mathematics program and establish relationships with corporate partners to provide students with real-world projects and research. The goal is to prepare students for the world they will encounter and provide a broad, overarching qualitative and quantitative background to foster their career and professional development.
Their studies will include the theory of ordinary and partial differential equations, statistical sciences, probability and decision theory, operational analysis, optimization theory, the mechanics of solid materials and of fluid flows, numerical analysis, scientific computation and the science of modern computer-based modeling. The focus on applied mathematics will help USD broaden relationships with companies offering internships, job opportunities and increased funding for research.
“We see an increasing demand by students for majors in applied mathematics as they prepare for careers in diverse fields like computing, physics, biology, finance, actuarial science, engineering, and earth sciences,” said Perla Myers, professor and chair of USD’s Department of Mathematics and Computer Science. “Companies such as Amazon, YouTube, Qualcomm, Kyocera and Northrop Grumman, just to name a few, have all hired our students in recent years and are looking to attract even more students with a strong mathematical background and experience applying their skills to other areas.”
At the same time, the United States has dropped from being the world leader in math and science education to 25th in math and 17th in science out of 31 countries ranked by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development in 2012. “The Applied Mathematics program with the support of the Fletcher Jones Foundation, can be a model for other schools and help to lead the United States to regain its leadership in science and technology,” said Boyd.
The Fletcher Jones Foundation, named after the late founder of Computer Sciences Corp., and USD have a long partnership to advance academic achievement and research. Including this latest gift, the foundation has awarded USD $4.5 million over the last two decades to create the Fletcher Jones Chair in Biology, and support capital technology for the Donald P. Shiley Center for Science and Technology and the School of Leadership and Education Sciences.
— Liz Harman