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Distinction Projects

The distinction project should reflect the student's in-depth and independent exploration of a topic beyond regular course work; this project culminates in an oral seminar presentation to the mathematics/cs faculty and interested students. Topics explored in an independent study course, MA345, MA399 or in a summer research program may be eligible.  The Distinction Committee for 2013-2014 is Fred Tinsley and Beth Malmskog.

A student wishing to qualify for distinction should:

1. Choose a faculty sponsor in the Mathematics Department. After consultation with the sponsor, the student must submit a brief outline (less than or equal to one page) of the project to the Committee on Distinction by the 9:00 AM on the first Monday of Block 4. We encourage students to initiate this process as soon as possible. 

2. Turn in an abstract for your project by 3:00 PM on Monday of the first week of Block 7. You may consult with your sponsor or a member of the Distinction Committee about the precise length and form of an abstract. 

3. Prepare a 20-minute oral presentation. Your preparation must include at least one formal practice run of your talk with your sponsor or a member of the distinction committee in attendance. 

4. Give your oral presentation on Wednesday or Thursday afternoon of the third week of Block 7. All talks will be given on these two day with a celebratory banquet to follow.

5. Prepare a written summary of your project. This paper must be no longer than eight pages and no shorter than six pages. It is due to the Distinction Committee by 3:30 PM on Friday of Week 3 of Block 7. Again, you may consult your sponsor or a member of the Distinction Committee about the precise nature of the paper. 

At the end of Block 7, the faculty discusses the student's overall performance and votes on whether or not to confer distinction. The following factors will be considered (in no particular order):

1. Work in the major: candidates for distinction should have an excellent record in mathematics and computer science courses, especially in upper level courses, and in the senior year.

2. Work outside the major: outstanding achievement outside the major is not required, but is certainly helpful.

3. Departmental involvement: Active involvement in the larger program of the department is helpful.

4. The Project: The project should reflect both depth of understanding, as well as some grasp of its larger context. The project should show the student's ability to work independently. The paper and seminar presentation will be judged both on content and on how well it reflects the larger project.