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Solving the world’s problems, one puzzle at a time

Media release

Curtin University’s Professor Louis Caccetta’s Maths Enrichment Program is helping demystify preconceived attitudes towards maths for school-aged students all over Western Australia.

More than a decade in the running, Professor Caccetta’s program was initiated in response to the declining interest in maths from schools and the perception that maths was a ‘hard’ subject.

Professor Caccetta said he wanted to establish a comprehensive maths enrichment program in WA that could help students to recognise the application of their skills to real-world issues.

“There was a feeling that WA had its share of mathematically talented students, but they weren’t being completely captured or nurtured, and we wanted the program to give them the additional assistance required to fully develop good maths skills,” Professor Caccetta said.

“We want these students to really start using their problem solving skills at an early stage in order to prepare them for a range of potential future careers. We get them thinking strategically by exposing them to a breadth of maths, including puzzles and problems.

“Often students discover that the solution required to a complex issue is simpler than they expect and by exposing them to that experience, they are encouraged to sharpen those skills.”

Professor Caccetta said the study of maths required patience and flexibility to tackle problems which sometimes required a multi-disciplinary approach.

“Maths experts can use these skills to help make major industries, such as finance, transport, agriculture, communications, technology and mining, more efficient and therefore, less costly,” he said.

“As the technology in our society is advancing at a faster rate than any other time in history, we need professionals who can approach these issues in a holistic manner, using mathematical technology to act as a productivity engine for industry.

“Whilst today’s computer technology provides enormous power to store, access and process complex data, mathematicians using smart models and algorithms are the linking key to extracting the information upon which the most effective management and operation decisions can be made.”

Professor Caccetta said maths skills were in great demand and students who went on to study at a university level could go on to a variety of rewarding careers in the field.

“It is so important to have the tools to answer the ‘what if’ questions out there. This is the most powerful contribution maths makes to the real world,” he said.

Professor Caccetta and the WA Centre of Excellence in Industrial Optimisation team has undertaken collaboration with key industry partners in a number of innovative, industrially relevant optimisation research projects.

For more information about the program visit the web page: http://maths.curtin.edu.au/enrichment.cfm

Contacts:

Professor Louis Caccetta
Head, Department of Maths and Statistics, School of Science, Curtin University
Tel: 08 9266 7234, Email: l.caccetta@curtin.edu.au

Andrea Barnard, Public Relations, Curtin University
Tel: 08 9266 4241, Mobile: 0401 103 755, Email: andrea.barnard@curtin.edu.au

Web: http://curtin.edu.au