Return of the MACSI - Clongowes Wood College

Posted: 10th February 2014

Clongowes physics students are once again involved in research projects in collaboration with the Mathematics Applications Consortium for Science and Industry (MACSI) department of the University of Limerick. Last month the science department was delighted to welcome back Applied Mathematician Professor James Gleeson, who is a world leader in his field, and who had previously visited Clongowes in November to launch the first phase of the project.

At that stage Professor Gleeson met with over 30 students from Syntax and Poetry to begin the data collection phase of the work and the students, in groups of five, were asked to select one of three problems to work on:

  1. Optimising airline-overbooking procedures.
  2. Minimising aircraft boarding time.
  3. Predicting popularity of movies, apps etc.

These are real world problems that don’t appear to immediately lend themselves to mathematical analysis, and yet this is what the boys must engage with.

The first phase of the project – where students decided what variables to analyse and then gathered the appropriate data – was complete when Professor Gleeson returned on Wednesday 15th January to formally launch the second phase. This will involve the development of the actual mathematical models describing these systems and the professor spent his time listening to, challenging, guiding and inspiring the students.

The final phase will be the testing of these models with possible re-evaluation and re-testing before the students complete a report. Once completed, the participants will make a final presentation in the University of Limerick on the model, which they develop.

This project, which is unique to Clongowes, is a terrific opportunity for our students to get involved in real world applications and to see how problems in science and industry can be dealt with using physics and mathematics.

Special thanks must go to Professor James Gleeson, to whom we are deeply grateful for the time and effort he has invested in this project. Thanks are also due to our physics teacher, Mr O’Hara, through whom this link has been established, for bringing him to Clongowes. We look forward with keen interest to the progress of the undertaking throughout the remainder of the year.

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