Research in Scientific Computing in Undergraduate Education


The goal of Research in Scientific Computing in Undergraduate Education (RESCUE) project is to prepare undergraduate and school students for, and engage them in, a sustained research experience in computational mathematics. This project is supported by funding from the National Science Foundation, Directorate for Mathematical and Physical Sciences: Computational Science Training for Undergraduates in the Mathematical Sciences (CSUMS), Award number 0802974.

In the Mathematics Department at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth we are creating an infrastructure to prepare freshman and sophomore level undergraduate students for research in computational mathematics by developing skills in smaller pre-research projects, and to provide junior and senior level students with a year-long significant research experience.

The essence of our approach is to mentor students into genuine research problems and research methods in computational science, beginning with senior high school students for recruitment purposes, freshman and sophomore students for orientation to research in computational science through carefully selected research topics, and culminating in major senior undergraduate research projects where an expected outcome is professional presentation at a SIAM, AMS or MAA meeting, and preparation of a publishable research paper.

The impact of this project is to get students in our university and in our immediate recruitment area excited about the problems and career prospects of research in computational science. This begins with recruitment of senior high school students to the Computational Mathematics program, proceeds through the freshman and sophomore years with learning generic skills and attitudes essential to productive research, and culminates in professional level research experiences in the junior and senior years.

We have a proven record of successful undergraduate research: over the last three academic years, several senior students presented papers at the Sigma Xi research exhibition, and at regional meetings of the Mathematical Association of America. Additionally, these students have been co-authors on peer-reviewed publications abstracts, and conference presentations. Many of these student were majors in the Department’s Computational Mathematics Option, which for more than 25 years has educated and mentored undergraduates to successful careers in computational and applied mathematics. Other students were majors in Physics and Engineering who worked on projects in computational mathematics related to their major.

Our experiences in undergraduate research have demonstrated that it is a demanding, maturing, and enriching process for our students. Our students have benefited from their research experiences, and have made life choices based on these experiences. However, a one-semester research experience is not enough for most students, and those who have benefited most were those who chose to continue their research over a summer or as an independent study project.

There are a significant number of students who could succeed in research and benefit from an undergraduate research experience, but who need to be mentored and trained to do so. We firmly believe that students need to be recruited, encouraged, and mentored to be able to develop to the point of being able to successfully engage in a real, innovative, and significant research project. A major goal of this project is to develop the infrastructure to recruit and train students to engage in meaningful research experiences.

We are passionate about the need to create a supportive, positive, and diverse research environment for students. We recruit students who will enhance this research environment, paying special attention to the recruitment, encouragement and retention of women and minority students.


University of Massachusetts press release.