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Math and engineering departments divide

After five years of being combined, the math and engineering departments are now separate.

Dr. John Matsson, professor of engineering, remains the chair of the engineering department while Dr Andrew Lang has been appointed mathematics department chair.

As part of President Wilson’s vision for global initiative, this separation has been reinstated once more to distinguish the different majors.

“President Wilson wanted a flagship engineering department that he could market globally, because before then it was engineering, physics, computing and math, and it was all mingled together,” Mathematics Department Chair Dr. Andrew Lang said.

Lang said unlike past numbers, enrollment within science in engineering, math and computing has grown.

“One reason that we were combined in the first place is that the number of students we were getting, in particular with computer science, was declining, and so we sort of merged with engineering,” Lang said.

Senior math major Katie Crosby expresses her own outlook on this separation between the two departments.

“I think this will greatly enhance both departments just in the fact that they will be able to spend more time in their respective areas,” Crosby said. Lang’s own progression from professor to chair has given him new perspective in a different role.

“Being chair is very interesting,” Lang said. “I’m really enjoying it right now. Since I’ve only been chair for four weeks, it’s been more than it was. ” Lang said. “There’s a lot of things that go on behind the scenes that you’re not aware of as a regular faculty member. You have to cross all the T’s and dot all the I’s to make everything run smoothly.”

Since the separation between math and engineering, the departments are able to focus on their own majors as a whole rather than divide attention to two.

“Dr. Lang is very excellent in his teaching style,” Crosby said. “I’m glad that we are getting able to do a little more research now that he is directing it. And the engineers of course will be able to do some of their mechanical things.”

Now that the departments have split, more avenues for math majors are coming into reality.

“We have the Mathematics Pre-actuary and that major is still going through the faculty senate to be approved, but that should come into existence in the fall,” Lang said. “That will be a great major for people who love math but are also looking for immediate employment opportunities after undergraduate.”

The division between the mathematics and engineering departments has been taken as an opportunity to better fine tune both majors individually.

“Our visions are slightly different, so I think that when we were combined, our visions were competing a little bit,” Lang said. “Now that we’re separate, we have two very strong visions rather than two visions that are getting in the way of each other. I can see both department’s visions becoming realities now.”

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