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UAE school students learn real-life applications at AUS MathFest
Around two hundred students from 35 schools across the UAE sharpened their mathematical and critical thinking skills through the virtual American University of Sharjah (AUS) MathFest held recently.
“MathFest is part of the university’s aim to promote the importance of mathematics and its applications in the wider community. We want to engage future generations to think about the extraordinary opportunities and career possibilities related to mathematics. By bringing school students together at this event, we encourage them to tackle a wide variety of math problems and become critical thinkers and problem solvers,” said Dr. Ghada Alobaidi, Associate Professor in Mathematics and Statistics and chair of the organizing committee of MathFest.
The day-long virtual event featured a talk by Dr. Ayman Alzaatra, Associate Professor in Mathematics and Statistics at AUS, that showcased the use of mathematics in solving real-life problems, as well as a mathematics olympiad, a student poster competition and a workshop for teachers to introduce new innovative methods in teaching math.
The high school students also had the opportunity to virtually meet AUS students, who talked about their university experience at AUS, and to learn about career options related to mathematics.
Hawra Sabbah, a first-year mathematics student at AUS, said that she became excited about a career in mathematics in high school after she participated in the 2019 MathFest.
“I was good at math, but I never considered it to be a career option. However, after AUS MathFest 2019, I was excited to learn more, especially about the areas that comprised the math competition, some questions from which I wasn’t able to fully solve. I have come a long way since then, having subsequently read dozens of math books. At one point, all I wanted to do was learn more math. That’s when I decided to switch my major from civil engineering to mathematics,” she said.
“MathFest was only held for a few hours on that one day, but I am not exaggerating when I say that my life really turned around in those hours. It was a simple event that inspired me to become who I am now,” she added.
Final-year mechanical engineering AUS student Layla Khanfar decided to minor in applied and computational mathematics because of the wide range of skills that will help her when she pursues her graduate studies and later in her career. “I am hoping to purse a master’s degree in aeronautical engineering upon finishing my undergraduate studies, and work in the research and development sector where I can help find innovative solutions to global problems,” said Khanfar.
She also participated in MathFest when she was a high school student. “MathFest was my first experience with mathematics as a major and a minor. It showcased how math is not only about solving equations, but a tool for everything else in life,” she said.
“Studying mathematics may sounds challenging. But it is also a very rich field that helps you grow intellectually because it trains your brain to solve problems and think outside the box when finding solutions.”
MathFest is part of the AUS Sharakah program, a partnership program between AUS and select UAE high schools, and is organized by the Department of Mathematics and Statistics at the College of Arts and Sciences in collaboration with the Office of Enrollment Management. The event this year was attended by Professor Kevin Mitchell, AUS Chancellor; Dr. Juan Sanchez, AUS Provost and Chief Academic Officer; Dr. Mahmoud Anabtawi, Dean of CAS; and Ali Shuhaimy, Executive Director of Office of Enrollment Management.
“I want to thank the young and bright students who took up the challenge of this math competition. Such competitions are not only designed to make you think, analyze and carry out computational processes, but to also create an environment of inquiry and to motivate you to explore and learn about exciting areas of mathematics and other sciences,” said Dr. Anabtawi.
AUS offers both a bachelor’s degree and master’s degree in mathematics, as well as related minor programs. For more information about these programs, visit www.aus.edu/cas/department-of-mathematics-and-statistics.