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Sessions for Undergraduate Students

The MAA endeavors to ensure that all the mathematical sessions at MathFest are accessible to a broad audience, so undergraduate students are invited and encouraged to attend any of them. In addition, the MAA provides the following sessions that are aimed specifically at the interests of undergraduate students.

MAA-PME Student Reception

Wednesday, August 3, 4:30 p.m. - 5:30 p.m., Union D

Undergraduate students are invited to come for refreshments and a welcome to MathFest.

Math Jeopardy

Wednesday, August 3, 5:30 p.m. - 6:15 p.m., Union Station Ballroom A (Columbus Convention Center)

Answer: A fun undergraduate mathematics contest to lead off MathFest
Question: What is Mathematics Jeopardy?
Four teams of students will provide the questions to go with the mathematical answers in many categories. All interested students in the audience can enter their names to be chosen to play on one of the four teams of four players. There will be prizes for all the participants.
Come cheer for your favorite team. The session will be emceed by Michael Berry.

Robert W. Vallin, Lamar University
Michael W. Berry, University of Tennessee

MAA Student Paper Sessions

Full program of MAA Student Paper Sessions and PME Student Paper Sessions

Thursday, August 4, 8:30 a.m. - 11:25 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. - 6:15 p.m.,

Friday, August 5, 8:30 a.m. - 11:45 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. - 6:15 p.m. Madison/Fayette/Clark/Champaign

Students who wish to present at the MAA Student Paper Sessions at MathFest 2016 must be sponsored by a faculty advisor familiar with the work to be presented. Some funding to cover costs (up to $750) for student presenters is available. At most one student from each institution or REU can receive full funding; additional such students may be funded at a lower rate. All presenters are expected to take full part in the meeting and attend indicated activities sponsored for students on all three days of the conference. Abstracts and student travel grant applications should be submitted at For additional information visit

Chasen Smith, Georgia Southern University
Theron Hitchman, University of Northern Iowa

Pi Mu Epsilon Student Paper Sessions

Full program of MAA Student Paper Sessions and PME Student Paper Sessions

Thursday, August 4, 2:00 p.m. - 6:15 p.m., Knox/Marion/Morrow

Friday, August 5, 8:30 a.m. - 11:45 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. - 3:15 p.m., Knox/Marion/Morrow

Pi Mu Epsilon student speakers must be nominated by their chapter advisors. Application forms for PME student speakers will be available by March 1, 2016 on the PME web site A PME student speaker who attends all the PME activities is eligible for transportation reimbursement up to $600, and additional speakers are eligible with a maximum $1200 reimbursement per chapter. PME speakers receive a free ticket to the PME Banquet with their conference registration fee. See the PME website for more details.

Darci Kracht, Kent State University


MAA Chan Stanek Lecture for Students

Zombies & Calculus: A Survival Guide

Thursday, August 4, 1:00 p.m. - 1:50 p.m., Regency Ballroom

Colin AdamsWilliams College

If you are reading this, then you have managed to survive the zombie apocalypse so far. Congratulations! But as the world sinks further into ruin, what additional strategies can you apply to endure the onslaught? Learn how calculus can help you to defeat the zombie hordes. The lecture room will be will be certified a safe haven for the duration of the talk.

Speed Interviewing Marathon for Students

Thursday, August 4, 4:10 - 5:25 p.m., McKinley

Employers suggest that communication skills are a critical component when considering a mathematics major for a job. An important time to demonstrate good communication skills is during the job interview. This session for undergraduate students, graduate students and early career mathematicians will start with an overview of best practices and tips on job interviewing, then guide participants in several speed interviewing sessions of 10 minutes each, where they can practice what they have learned and hone their interviewing skills. Speed interviewing sessions will include individual feedback for participants, as well as opportunities to network with fellow interviewees.

Jenna Carpenter, Campbell University
Michael Dorff, Brigham Young University

Committee on Professional Development
Committee on Graduate Students
Committee on Undergraduate Student Activities and Chapters

Undergraduate Student Activity

Games Mathematicians  Play

Friday, August 5, 1:00 p.m. - 1:50 p.m.,  Hayes

Christopher Swanson, Ashland University

A combinatorial game is a game between two opposing players who make alternate moves from some starting position with each player having a finite number of moves available and knowing all possible moves of both players. Furthermore, moves are not determined by chance and the game lasts at most a certain number of turns, with the result being a win for one player or a draw. Tic-Tac-Toe and Chess are two well-known combinatorial games. In analyzing combinatorial games, the basic question is who should win if two expert players play the game - the player who goes first, the player who goes second, or should the game end in a draw? In this student activity, audience members will play a number of combinatorial games and try to determine the answer to this basic question.

Panel Session

Non-Academic Mathematical Career Paths for Undergraduates

Friday, August 5, 2:35 p.m. - 3:55 p.m., McKinley

Step one: earn a degree in mathematics. Step three: have a great career! What is step two? Whether you are a mathematics student looking for a job once you graduate or an advisor looking for advice to give to future job-seeking students, this session will help you gain new perspectives on nonacademic career experiences and what employers value in their employees. Panelists will share the paths to their current positions, the ways in which they utilize their mathematical background, and offer advice to others looking for employment in similar venues.

May Mei, Dennison University
Ben Galluzzo, Shippensburg University

Karla Dixon, Abercrombie & Fitch
Bruce Myers, National Security Agency
Derek Straiton, Gahanna Lincoln High School
Tony Hovest, Motorists Insurance Group

MAA Committee on Undergraduate Student Activities and Chapters


Friday, August 5, 3:30 p.m. - 5:00 p.m., Taft A

They're called Fermi problems...

  • How heavy is the Eiffel Tower?
  • How many prime numbers have distinct digits?
  • How many calories would you be eating if you had "one of everything" at the Cheesecake Factory?

If you're looking for a mindbending mixture of math and trivia, look no further! Jane Street Capital presents The Estimathon contest: teams will have 30 minutes to work on 13 problems, ranging from totally trivial to positively Putnamesque. Can your team beat the all-time best score?? The top teams will receive prizes!
As in past years, we will run 2 contests. Feel free to show up to either one!
(Please show up 15 minutes before the start time of the contest you want to join.)
Our target schedule is as follows:

  • 4:00 pm. Welcome, overview of rules and scoring.
  • 4:15 pm. Estimathon contest #1
  • 5:00 pm. Estimathon contest #2

Andy Niedermaier, Jane Street Capital

Pi Mu Epsilon Banquet

Friday, August 5, 6:00 p.m. - 7:45 p.m., Franklin

All PME members and their supporters are welcome. See the registration form for more information on this ticketed event.


Pi Mu Epsilon J. Sutherland Frame Lecture

Combinatorics - The Mathematics That Counts

Friday, August 5, 8:00 p.m. - 8:50 p.m., Regency Ballroom

Robin Wilson, Open University

How many Sudoku puzzles are there? Are there 33 Londoners with the same number of hairs on their head? Can a knight visit all the squares of a chessboard just once? And can we tile a floor with squares and regular hexagons? These are all problems in combinatorics, the branch of mathematics concerned with selecting, arranging, counting and listing things. In this talk I shall illustrate the nature and uses of combinatorics by means of a number of entertaining problems.

MAA Ice Cream Social for Undergraduates

Friday, August 5, 9:00 p.m. - 10:00 p.m., McKinley

Besides cake and ice cream, we will recognize all students who gave talks in the MAA Student Paper Sessions, and award prizes for the best of them. All are invited.

MAA Mathematical Competition in Modeling (MCM) Winners

Saturday, August 6, 9:00 a.m. - 10:15 a.m., McKinley

About 400 American teams, each consisting of three undergraduates, entered the 2016 Mathematical Contest in Modeling in February. Teams choose one of two real(istic) problems. Teams have four days to deal with the MCM challenge and may use or access any inanimate source - computers, libraries, the Web, etc. MAA judges choose a winner for each problem. The two MAA winning teams of students will present their results of the MCM four-day challenge.

Ben Fusaro, Florida State University

Student Problem Solving Competition

Saturday, August 6, 1:00 p.m. - 2:15 p.m., Franklin A

This event is the finals of the Problem Solving Competition. Universities and colleges that participate monthly on their own campuses by holding problem solving contests are invited to send a contestant. Each contestant will be required to solve a series of mathematical problems. Based on the outcome, a champion along with 2nd through 6th place winners will be named.

Richard Neal, American Society for the Communication of Mathematics

Graduate Student Paper Session

Great Talks for a General Audience: Coached Presentations by Graduate Students

Saturday, August 6, 1:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m., Madison

Presenters in this session must be graduate students. While many graduate students will be asked to give a lecture to an audience consisting of undergraduates and non-mathematicians (possibly as part of a job interview), most students do not have much experience talking to a non-research audience. This session gives graduate students the opportunity to give a 20-minute talk aimed at an undergraduate audience (speakers should assume the audience has been only exposed to calculus and possibly some linear algebra). Both the talks and abstracts should be designed to excite a wide range of undergraduates about mathematics. All participants in this session will receive private feedback on their presentations from an established faculty member and an undergraduate student. Contact a session organizer for help writing an abstract or preparing your talk for a general audience. Optional Q&A sessions with the organizers will be held at MathFest for presenters to receive feedback on their talks. Graduate student participants in this session should also attend the graduate student workshop (What’s the Story?).

Submit an abstract

James Freeman, Cornell College
Rachel Schwell, Central Connecticut State University
Aliza Steurer, Dominican University
May Mei, Denison University

MAA Committee on Graduate Students