Applied Projects

The Applied Project component of the Applied Math major offers students the opportunity to engage in one or more projects of original research. These are interdisciplinary projects in which mathematics are applied to an outside area. Students work under the guidance of faculty members in mathematics and/or in other departments.


The Applied Project requirement is completed over the course of 3 courses (MATH 301, 302, and 494-2).  Over the course of the curriculum, students will

  • learn to be comfortable reading and learning from journal articles and other primary sources of scientific literature.
  • learn about areas of cutting edge research in applied mathematics, and how to approach a project of original research in these areas.
  • learn how to delve into a specialized area of study outside of mathematics, with the purpose of acquiring the necessary background in that area to understand how their mathematical expertise can be applied.
  • learn to write a scientific article following academic publishing guidelines, using standard industry editing software such as LaTeX.
  • learn to present the results of their project orally to various audiences of mathematicians and non-mathematicians.

Students have several opportunities to present their projects at local events on campus at Wheaton College such as mid-semester oral presentation sessions or the homecoming weekend poster session. In some cases, students may obtain funding to travel to local, regional, and national conferences to present their projects, and may appear as co-authors of an article in peer-reviewed journals.

MATH 301 - Colloquium (1 hr)

This colloquium discusses the current mathematical and computational methods used in the natural and social sciences, as well as the place of mathematical research in the broader scientific community.  The colloquium discusses how topics in applied mathematics are often approached in collaboration with other scientists, and learned by reading specialized journals and other sources of primary literature.  The phases of a research project are discussed, from the research proposal to the presentation of results.  Students participate in an expository research project and learn to present results orally and in writing, using proper form and specialized software.

MATH 302 - Applied Project (2 hr)

Students work individually on a research project in applied mathematics.  The topic of the project is selected from a list of topics in the applied sciences (economics, engineering, physics, chemistry, biology, epidemiology, pharmacology, physiology, music, or the social sciences); application of a mathematical tool (or set of tools) is required to model the problem, analyze data, obtain quantitative results, and complete the project.

Students work independently for the most part, under the guidance of one or more faculty adviser(s).  All students enrolled in the course will gather as a class periodically during the semester to give updates on their progress, share methods and intermediate results, and ultimately present their project.

MATH 494-2 - Applied Capstone (2 hr)

Students complete and present their major applied project.  The faith integrative aspects of the projects are discussed and, whenever possible, connections made to faith-based missions serving in under-served communities.  This course also serves to provide a survey of important advances in applied mathematics, both historical and contemporary, and explore how the fundamental methods of applied mathematics have impacted other areas of inquiry and facilitated the improvement of society.

Critical reflection on the relationship between applied mathematics and other liberal arts disciplines and general education are fostered by class discussions supplemented by selected readings and information from other sources such as seminars, websites, e-mail correspondence and phone interviews.

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