New Ph.D. program on campus

The math sciences department may soon offer a doctorate in mathematics that will focus on its students learning how to communicate, collaborate and consulate with experts in fields ranging from, biologists cracking the DNA code to wall street analysts breaking profit records.

Dr. Steven Bleiler described the evolution of the new doctorate program, “The concept started a few years ago when we began looking to reform our graduate programs requirements, during this process we decided to put together an in house Ph.D. program that was designed to meet the needs of the 21st Century Economy.” Traditionally the criticism of trained mathematicians is that they do not work fluently with small multi-disciplinary teams inside corporations, government or other academic environments.

Prior to the 1980s approximately 90 percent of mathematics doctorate graduates worked at universities. The information age brought an eruption of complex mathematical possibilities, with Apple Desktop Computers and IBM Mainframes. Corporate America needed a highly trained workforce to make sense of the growing possibilities of complex algorithms and statically probabilities.

Bleiler continued, “What we are preparing Ph.D. students for, is an environment where a highly trained expert in mathematics can effectively communicate with another highly trained experts in fields ranging from Finance to Chemistry, Aerospace to Environmental Science. Companies like Intel & Boeing are not looking for Interdisciplinary scientists, they are looking for disciplinary scientist who can work in cross-disciplinary teams, a subtle but important difference. We are also hoping our program will become a model for Ph.D. training across the country.”

The Portland Sate math sciences department finds itself in a unique position not only to respond to its communities needs but also advance across the board all disciplines at the university. Eugene Enneking head of the math sciences department at PSU stated, “by training this new kind of Ph.D. student not only will they be highly trained to work in the new economy but they will also be good for the university’s community by servicing and working with other departments. The byproduct of this program will strengthen the University overall.”

After passing the Portland State faculty senate the new doctorate program needs to be passed by the academic council, a collection of university representatives in Oregon. If everything goes as planned the program may start as early as fall of 2002. With two doctorate programs running and increased graduate student support, the math sciences program is positioning itself as one of the premier math programs in the country.