March 23, 2022

International Day of Mathematics (pi day)

To celebrate the 2022 International Day of Mathematics (14 March), the House of Science organised two activities – The Treasure Hunt “Quest of the Lost Fields Medal: Chapter II” game and a special Après-Lunch webinar with the Mathematical Scientists. The game was aimed at the general public and Après-Lunch at university students. 

The Treasure Hunt game had to be cancelled because there were few quality entries this year to produce an impactful product. The special Après-Lunch with the Mathematical Scientists aims for local university students and AIMS students to interact with esteemed mathematical scientists/role models working in academia/industry and other sectors to boost the transformation and pipeline by encouraging students from Historically Disadvantaged Institutions (HDI) to take up study and research in mathematical sciences at AIMS South Africa. The associated webinar was hosted specifically for the University of Limpopo undergraduate and postgraduate students in mathematics, applied mathematics, statistics, and computer science. Other students from local universities also joined the webinar. 

The theme for the webinar was Career Advancement in Mathematical Sciences: Challenges, Opportunities & Transformation in South Africa. Through a panel discussion, the participants were exposed to role models in mathematical sciences and job opportunities available in their respective fields. The panellists were  Dr Bubacarr Bah, a Data Scientist at AIMS South Africa;  Vhahangwele Ramuada, a  Business Intelligence Developer at Nedbank, South Africa; Zinhle Mthombothi, a Junior Researcher at the South African Centre for Epidemiological Modelling and Analysis (SACEMA); and Mmatlou Kubyana, a PhD Candidate in BioMathematics and Data Analyst at the Stellenbosch University. The panellists shared their career and research/job experiences and tips on succeeding during and after completing AIMS’s academic training, how to apply for funding, and securing a supervisor in academia. The panellists further highlighted critical skills that one acquires from AIMS that might be useful in industry/academia sectors and different career opportunities. 

Some of the students felt that they received valuable information that they could use in their careers in the future. Others came to AIMS exuding a sense of despondency at their mathematical sciences degrees. For them,  the AIMS webinar helped them gain insight into the field.

“I acquired sufficient information that will help me in the future, especially about the broadness of Mathematics career and jobs availability which also served as a motivation”

“I’m more confident that the knowledge I have acquired from my previous studies, I believe I’m equipped enough to get where I wish to be career-wise”

“I need to up-skill yourself always. There are a lot of opportunities for you as a mathematician. I should use social media to improve myself too.”

“I have learned that there is still a knowledge deficit in mathematical science. As one continuous learning towards PHD, one will realize there is not much competition but instead your knowledge is being sought after. I should use other platforms like Udemy, EDEX, COURSERA to keep upskill myself”

Dr Rejoyce Gavhi-Molefe, AIMS’s House of Science Manager, and Dr Lesiba Charles Galane, a Lecturer and AIMS Alumnus at the University of Limpopo, organised and facilitated the webinar. Dr Gavhi-Molefe provided participants with the background and rationale behind AIMS, its programmes (training, research and public engagement), footprint/impact in South Africa and on the continent, and the benefits and recruitment processes for the AIMS academic programme for graduate students.  

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