Boris Kramer from the Virginia Tech SIAM chapter updates us on a trip to meet industry representatives in the field:
For the first time, the SIAM student chapter at Virginia Tech organized a trip to meet with industry representatives from the Washington DC metropolitan area on October 18th, 2013. In addition to our biweekly seminars with graduate or faculty speakers from science and engineering departments, we already added more to SIAM’s academic component by having our first graduate poster session this past spring. See a SIAM blog post about this event.
However, we felt that SIAM’s “I” component was continuously underrepresented in our activities. To overcome this, we had long been thinking about organizing an event with exposure to industry. However, organizing and making such an event happen requires a lot of work. In our faculty advisor, Dr. Lizette Zietsman, and the Director of the Interdisciplinary Center for Applied Mathematics, Dr. Terry Herdman we had two great and very supportive faculty members; without their contacts in industry and experience in organization, this event couldn’t have happened.
Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, VA lies in the Blue Ridge Mountains, three hours from Charlotte and four hours from District of Columbia. Only few industry representatives would have had the time to make that trip and come to Blacksburg. However, Virginia Tech has a presence in Arlington, VA, right outside of D.C. Fortunately, we could get a meeting room there, which for most speakers just meant a short drive from their offices. Prior to the event, the hotel booking for 18 graduate students, catering, travel arrangements and scheduling the 10 speakers kept us busy.
With the US government shutdown a day before the event, we were doubtful if all speakers would be able to make it but everything worked out well and the event went very smoothly. We had speakers from various industrial areas, all of whom worked in the broader area of applied mathematics. They gave short presentations about their company, their career and helpful tips based on personal experiences. The event took about 6 hours during which we left plenty of space for personal chats, and two Q&A panel discussions.
The whole trip was extremely interesting and helpful for us as graduate students. We had the chance to interact with many experienced people from industry, business and government in a friendly and informal environment.