Chicago Area SIAM student chapters come together

Below is a great story from Barrett Leslie of the Illinois Institute of Technology SIAM Student Chapter on how Chicago area chapters connected to overcome funding challenges to organize their first inter-chapter event. A great lesson for other student chapters in similar situations: 


The Chicago Area SIAM Student Conference (CASSC), a collaboration between Illinois Institute of Technology(IIT), Northwestern University (NU), and University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC), is the inaugural event celebrating applied mathematics in Chicagoland. The event will feature plenary speakers who are leaders in the field, along with talks from graduate students and a poster session showcasing the work of graduate and undergraduate students. To find out more about the conference please visit the website. The conference will be held April 27th and 28th—call for submissions is currently still open. 

Here is a little background on the conference:

In 2011, the Illinois Institute of Technology SIAM student chapter hosted IITSIAM2011. This conference was such a success that the IIT and UIC math departments suggested it be extended into a bi-annual event hosted between the two schools. At the 2012 SIAM Annual Meeting in Minneapolis, UIC and IIT SIAM chapter members (Marc Kjerland & Barrett Leslie) found themselves in a breakfast discussion with fellow SIAM student officers. Of particular interest was an Oxford SIAM student conference that brought together all of the UK’s SIAM student chapters. The officers agreed that they would like to see such events taking place and decided to generate a set of guidelines, known as the SIAM student chapters White Papers.

After returning to Chicago, Kjerland and Leslie organized a meeting between their two chapters and began to apply the White Papers to design a UIC-IIT joint conference. The initial meetings went off seamlessly. However, the fall semester brought unfortunate news: Due to school budget cuts, the IIT student chapter fought a semester long bureaucracy battle for its survival. It was agreed that the UIC chapter would need to seek basic funding to cover the costs of the conference. While at every turn the UIC chapter faced seemingly insurmountable funding challenges, the detailed timeline the group had developed around the student White Papers became obsolete, requiring a new approach.

When all looked as though it was lost, the Northwestern University chapter entered the picture and took up the cause of funding the conference. Haley Yaple helped to bolster the budget, requesting funds from various departments at Northwestern, and breathing life back into the project. With basic funding costs met by Northwestern the conference had expanded to incorporate the greater Chicago Area: CASSC was born. The Chapters have since been working together and will hold their first inter-chapter event, visiting Argonne National Laboratory as a group this coming Friday. Pictures will follow along with a recap of the event.

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