Kristen Sellke, Ph.D., Chair
The focus of the Department of Mathematics, Computer Science and Statistics is to promote critical thinking and abstract problem solving skills. Specifically, the department provides students guided opportunities to develop powers of logical thought and critical analysis with an orientation for modeling in applications. Departmental courses are designed to provide an appropriate experience in mathematics, computer science, geographic information science or statistics for students whether they are taking courses to complete a major offered by the department, taking courses to complement another major, or taking courses in the general education program.
Besides offering four majors and four minors, the department supports and staffs the multidisciplinary minor in scientific computing.
As part of the university advising program, the department makes recommendations for each student concerning the preparatory mathematics and statistics courses they are required/qualified to take. These recommendations are based on the ACT subscore in mathematics and/or department placement tests. Placement tests are offered to incoming students during the summer orientation sessions. They may also be taken at other times by arrangement with the department chair.
Students who have a high school background in calculus are encouraged to apply for credit through advanced standing. For credit in calculus, a sufficiently high score on the national advanced placement (AP) College Entrance Examination, the CLEP Calculus Test, or the Saint Mary’s University Advanced Placement Calculus Test is required. Advanced placement information is available from the department chair.
There is an active student-operated Mathematics and Computer Science club consisting of members from all levels of our majors/minors and providing fun activities and social gatherings In addition, the department has its own chapter of Pi Mu Epsilon, the national honorary mathematics society, for qualified sophomores, juniors and seniors.
This area of the department blends mathematics and business, preparing students for a career in actuarial science. Professionals in the actuarial science field analyze the financial consequences of risk using mathematics, statistics and financial theory. This high-demand field is highly rated by many news outlets.
General Goals for Learning:
Students in actuarial science:
- Understand and use mathematical, statistical and business theory and techniques to analyze and solve problems;
- Communicate about and with mathematics and finance in oral and written formats;
- Possess the foundations necessary for a professional career as an actuary.
This area of the department develops ethical and professional leaders in one of three areas: computer science, geographic information science (GIS), or data analytics. The computer science track of the major emphasizes the acquisition of software design and development skills through project-based curriculum. Both the GIS and data analytics tracks provide students with a strong core of programming skills, while introducing students to relevant knowledge in their prospective area.
Each track in this major follows a 3–1 educational model: three years of intense course work plus one year of supervised project work. The supervised project work may include an internship. This program strives to engage students with outside partners in the computing industry as well as on-campus partners such as GeoSpatial Services and internships at local companies such as Fastenal and IBM.
The first three years are built upon a platform of fundamental computing concepts and problem-solving skills. The final year builds a senior capstone practicum experience involving the student in the complete lifecycle of software development. The practicum is a year-long endeavor of the student’s own design, or in conjunction with an ongoing group project.
General Goals for Learning
Students in computer data science (regardless of track) will develop:
Mathematics and Statistics
This area of the department aims to demonstrate the precision, beauty, and power of mathematics and statistics, their systematic organization, symbolic clarity and exact reasoning, and their capacity for yielding generalizations and predictions from data submitted to mathematical and statistical laws.
Students in mathematics or statistics:
- Communicate about and with mathematics and statistics in oral and written formats;
- Understand and use mathematical and statistical theory and techniques to analyze and solve problems; and
- Translate real-world problems into mathematical situations and then apply mathematics and/or statistics to solve the problems.
- Use technology for the communication and learning of mathematics and/or statistics.