Industrial Mathematics – Current Practices

Ellen Murphy

Dr Ellen Murphy, Commercial Research Associate, Bath Institute for Mathematical Innovation
Using mathematics to solve industrial problems has benefits for everyone; mathematicians get to wrap their heads around interesting and challenging problems, and industrialists gain access to knowledge that would otherwise be unattainable. That was why I was so glad to be involved in the MI-NET Workshop, held here in the University of Bath in October 2015.  Mathematicians from all over Europe and beyond gathered together to share their experiences of working with industry and to help researchers from countries that traditionally don’t have a history of industrial collaboration.

One mathematician with a wealth of experience solving industrial problems is Professor Chris Budd OBE. His talk on Student Projects with Industry demonstrated the variety of problems that mathematicians can expect to encounter when they work with industry. Chris talked about the well-known examples of power generation and finance but also lesser known ones like creating art or even using crowd dynamics to escape a lecture hall. I’m sure there are times when we’d all like to know how to do that!
The following day I snuck into the Working Group for Education and Training. Having been both a participant and an organiser of student mathematical modelling workshops in Ireland, it was exciting to hear the discussions on how to organise them and similar activities in other MI-NET countries. It can be challenging for these first-timers to secure funding, which is why these working groups are so important – to listen to people’s concerns, disseminate the appropriate information and to then refine the process accordingly.
The most valuable part of the workshop for me was making new contacts that would be nearly impossible otherwise. Over the two days I met researchers from Sweden, Bosnia and Herezgovina and Cyprus and met old friends from Ireland, the UK and Spain. And who knows, maybe I’ll see some of them again on a Short-Term Scientific Mission!