Southwest Regional Institute in the Mathematical Sciences (SWRIMS)
Project Website: Southwest Regional Institute in the Mathematical Sciences (SWRIMS)
(1994 - present)
The SWRIMS, established in 1994, is currently sponsoring projects at Northern Arizona University, the University of Arizona, and Utah State University. Together, the mathematics departments at these universities share a common belief that the distance that has developed between teaching and research is artificial, and with the right leadership this great distance can be successfully closed.
Historically, the great diversity in teaching and research responsibilities of the mathematics community has led to fragmentation and poor communication among the many ongoing activities. The glaring separation between research and teaching is evident at institutions worldwide, where traditional "publish or perish" philosophies have greatly exacerbated the divide. This separation is a major roadblock to the desire to communicate the beauty and utility of mathematics to the entire community. The Southwest RIMS plans to consolidate and significantly enhance existing structures, support a new initiative towards the integration of research and teaching in the mathematical sciences, and facilitate the expansion of established core activities into a full scale regional institute in the mathematical sciences with many more universities involved.
The goal of the Southwest RIMS is to expose students of all ages to mathematics as practiced by professionals and to empower them with a feeling that useful information can be gleaned from the simplest of models. Interacting with these professionals, seeing their lifestyles and work habits, becoming involved with the same problems, will yield a much more accurate picture of careers in the mathematical sciences and the rewards, both intellectual and financial, that they bring. It is also necessary to involve instructors of the mathematical sciences in this adventure because it is they who will transmit the excitement and importance of mathematics and science on a day-to-day basis. They, too, must feel comfortable in using quantitative analysis to address real world challenges.
The infrastructure for supporting these educational experiences is already in place at all levels of teaching and research at the universities that are a part of the Southwest RIMS. The many educational activities spawned by dedicated individuals or small groups within the mathematics departments over the years is testimony to our awareness of the seriousness of the educational problem nationwide and exemplify our dedication and our experience in addressing this challenge. The Southwest RIMS and The University of Arizona Department of Mathematics have written this catalog (this catalog represents the first installment of our efforts to describe the outreach activities throughout the region) listing educational activities sponsored by the University of Arizona which encourage students, minorities and native peoples, women, parents, mathematics teachers of all levels, and professionals in the community to recognize the importance of mathematics in society.
Communication is the key to education. The Southwest RIMS hopes that by reaching out to the community and working together we will teach all of our children to become mathematically literate. This is a task that requires not only a rethinking of what it is that we teach, but also how it is that we present the material. With this last thought in mind, I am reminded of a saying that my mother was fond of: "Hablando se entiende la gente" - By speaking, we make ourselves understood.
We, in the mathematics community, study the most fascinating of subjects. It is we who should take a leadership role in communicating this fascination to the community. We can. Listen to my mother.
William Yslas Vélez
Director - Southwest RIMS