PIMS Workshop Leader Sought, August 7-14, 2016

Do you have a real industrial problem that you can share with a team of bright, motivated grad students?

Every year the Pacific Institute for Mathematics (PIMS) runs a workshop for graduate students on using mathematical methods for industrial applications, called the Graduate Math Modeling in Industry Workshop. PIMS is planning an event for August 7-14, 2016 in Vancouver, and would really like to get a statistician involved as a mentor for one project. They have contacted CANSSI for help in finding a volunteer. In my role as a member of the CANSSI Industrial Innovation Committee, I am helping to lead the search. That’s why I’m contacting you. Would you like to be a project leader for a Statistics workshop?

The structure of the workshop is that they run five projects on some given industrial problem, each led by a mentor, who directs a team of 7 or 8 students on doing a mathematical or statistical analysis of the problem. The idea is to give the students real-world experience with a real problem in industry, using real data and actual challenges that arise in the workplace. The mentor would be leading the show with his or her team, with PIMS staff providing the logistics of getting students to the workshop, providing rooms, computing equipment, activities, etc. The role of the mentor is equivalent to teaching an intensive course on statistical analysis on a particular applied problem. The focus is really on the training of the students, with realistic problems. The joy in doing this is the opportunity to work with what I would imagine are some of the brighter, more motivated students in the region or perhaps in the country.

The event generally lasts the full week (Aug 7-14), will be held at UBC, and will take a good chunk of the person’s time. It is, nevertheless, a very rewarding experience according to organizers. Michael Lamoureux, the PIMS Innovation Coordinator, would work with the person to come up with a suitable problem for the students: one that would be in line with the interests of the mentor but also at a level that is suitable for this team of keen, highly motivated grad students.

The actual topic of expertise is pretty open—it should be relevant to industry, and if the proposed mentor has experience working with industry (either through collaborations, consulting, or in employment with a company), that would be very valuable. “Big data” seems to be a hot topic that would attract some students, so that is certainly a broad area worth considering. But we am sure there are many others.

If you would be interested in being considered for this opportunity, please contact either me, Tom Loughin (tloughin@sfu.ca) or John Braun (john.braun@ubc.ca), chair of the CANSSI Industrial Innovation Committee. Give us a general idea of what kind of project you might propose and what areas of statistics you think might be used on it. It doesn’t have to be well formulated at this point. PIMS is open to flying someone to Vancouver to lead the project, so please feel free to forward this call for volunteers far and wide to others who may be interested.

We would appreciate hearing of your interest by, say, the end of this week. An expression of interest at this point is not a commitment on anyone’s part. John and I will discuss potential volunteers with Michael Lamoureaux and get back to each of them.



Thomas M. Loughin, P.Stat. (SSC), PStat® (ASA)
Professor and Chair, Statistics and Actuarial Science
Simon Fraser University

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