The first students at the only elite education in mathematics in Denmark have begun at DTU. During the entire education the students must maintain a GPA of at least 10.0 – otherwise they will be dismissed from the program.
Laura Friis Frølich (Foto: Thorkild Amdi Christensen)
The students at the elite education Industrial Mathematics are among the sharpest knives in the drawer. Enough said. To even be considered it takes a GPA of more than 10.0. Laura Friis Frølich was one of the 11 chosen to begin at Industrial Mathematics September 1st. One of the things that sparked her interest was that she would be in class with likeminded people:
“I don’t just want to learn a theory, but also understand the foundation for how theories work and I have a clear expectation that I have been placed in a class where everyone are equally interested in delving deeper into the field. Already now I can feel that my fellow classmates are someone who won’t just run off after classes end. We work together seriously, also after school,” says Laura Friis Frølich, 23.
The motivation is exactly what characterizes the elite student. They know what they want, says program director at Industrial Mathematics, Helle Rootzén:
“The really accomplished students know what they want. They are very self-conscious about the fact that what they are doing is very novel, and they work hard on figuring out how to do it. With the elite program we provide these students with the proper frame,” says Helle Rootzén.
The bright need challenges
When minister of science Helge Sander last year approved the all in all 12 elite programs at the Danish universities he stated that the purpose of the elite programs was “to provide the best students with the right amount of challenges”. After the summer holidays the educations became a reality. DTU hosts a total of three elite programs: The elite program in Chemical and Biochemical Technology, the elite program in Fuel cells, and finally the elite program in Industrial Mathematics.
Program director at Industrial Mathematics Helle Rootzén agrees with the minister of science that the really accomplished students need to be challenged because society will benefit most from it in the end:
“The elite students take another kind of responsibility for their education. Already now we can see that the new elite students think in more untraditional ways in their education, building new bridges between different branches of applied mathematics. This will in turn affect existing research. Their academic surplus allows industry related problems to be seen from a whole new perspective, so it will be very exciting to see what the new students have developed once they are done with the elite education,” says Helle Rootzén.
Out of the study bubble
The elite education in Industrial Mathematics resembles an ordinary master program at first glance, but differs in that students collaborate closely with companies and the industry, something that Laura Friis Frølich is really looking forward to:
“When you work together with a company the theory you have is actually applied. It is incredibly satisfying that it is not just a planned out school assignment you are solving, but that your research can actually improve the lives of people. You are not just sitting in your own study bubble, you are sharing your research with the rest of the world,” says Laura Friis Frølich.
A and B team?
Some might think that it is a worrying development that the best students are given the offer of an elite education. For when the good students are given special treatment will it then mean that the regular educations are weakened? Helle Rootzén understands the concern but is still confident that it is the right thing to do:
“Of course we still have to make sure that the other students receive the high quality teaching they are used to. But one thing does not rule out the other, and if teaching continues as normal then the middle group of students is taken into consideration. In other words it is the students at elite level who are left behind because there are not enough challenges for them. We don’t utilize their full potential, which is why we need an elite education,” says Helle Rootzén.
And exactly this potential is evident in Laura Friis Frølich. Even though she has only been at the elite program for about a month she has already set a few waypoints for the future. She wants to conduct research on the brain, and to get the most recent teaching in this particular field she is going to California:
“My goals is to get a semester at Berkeley University. Here they have experience in combining computer science with statistics when modeling the brain and in that way discovering how it works,” says Laura Friis Frølich.
A minimum of 10.0 in Grade Point Average
But before Laura can make that dream come true she has to pass the next many assignments and projects, which are a part of the courses. One of the requirements to the elite students is they must maintain a GPA of 10.0 throughout the entire education. Laura Friis Frølich just turned in her first elite report in Statistics, and she can hardly wait to get the result:
“When I get the grade for the assignment it will be the first time I get a hint as to where I am in terms of level. It will tell me if the two years at the elite program will be a fight or a walk in the park,” says Laura Friis Frølich.
About the elite education in Industrial Mathematics
The elite education Industrial Mathematics belongs to the master degree in Mathematic Modeling and Computation (MMC master program)
Gneder quota: There are three girls and eight boys at Industrial Mathematics. In percentage that is the same ratio as at the bachelor degree in Mathematics and technology.
So far only Danes have been allowed into the elite education in Industrial Mathematics. Foreigners can only apply when they have been in the country for six months. DTU Informatics and DTU Mathematics host the education, but there are also courses available from DTU Management and DTU Space.
If you want to know more about the elite educations at DTU, you can read more at DTU’s website.