02. 08. 2019

Partnership will accelerate opportunities for Africa’s talented mathematicians

A group of AIMS graduates in caps and gowns

The University of Minnesota and the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences (AIMS) announced a new partnership today for exchanging knowledge and accelerating educational opportunities for talented African mathematicians. The University of Minnesota is one of only four universities in the United States who are AIMS academic partners.

Founded in 2003, AIMS recruits Africa’s most talented university graduates and provides them with a series of intensive, cutting-edge courses in mathematics to enter technical professions or to pursue graduate studies in technical and scientific fields. Today, AIMS has educational centers in South Africa, Senegal, Ghana, Cameroon, Tanzania, Rwanda. In addition to the United States, educational, governmental, and corporate funding partners are from the United Kingdom, Canada, Germany, and Scandinavia.

“Our mathematics programs need to think globally to recruit and educate the best people worldwide for the greatest impact,” said Professor Peter Olver, head of the University of Minnesota School of Mathematics and 2005 AIMS teaching participant in Cape Town, South Africa. “In many respects, Africa is the largest untapped market of students and talent. This program will allow the University of Minnesota a toe-hold that could pay big dividends down the road.”

Under the new agreement, the University of Minnesota will invest $25,000 a year in AIMS. In return, AIMS will pay travel and living expenses for University of Minnesota faculty members and graduate students to serve as lecturers and tutors at AIMS campuses across Africa. The University of Minnesota expects to send a faculty and grad student as soon as the 2019-20 academic year.

In addition, University of Minnesota faculty will join the AIMS academic department in the development of curriculum and experimental program content. Scholars from both the AIMS and University of Minnesota will work together on joint research and future academic collaborations. This important partnership will also help support qualified AIMS students to apply to University of Minnesota graduate programs.

“At AIMS, we are always looking to partner with like-minded institutions, and we are pleased to announce this partnership with the University of Minnesota, a prestigious research university,” said Professor Barry Green, chief academic and research­­ officer of AIMS. “Given our ambitions to become one of the leading mathematical sciences research institutes in the world, this is a welcome partnership. We are particularly looking forward to all the opportunities this will afford our alumni and researchers.”

Since its inception 15 years ago, AIMS has had more than 1,700 graduates from 43 African countries with 31 percent of graduates being women. Ninety have completed Ph.D. programs with another 225 in progress. Almost 300 graduates have completed research master’s degrees with another 125 in progress. More than 135 alumni currently teach at various levels of education in Africa with more than 90 percent teaching in universities and colleges. AIMS now occupies the 13th place in Africa for weighted research outputs on the Nature Index list.

The University of Minnesota’s partnership with AIMS builds upon other University efforts to increase diversity under nationwide programs such as the Math Alliance and the Enhancing Diversity in Graduate Education (EDGE) Program that work to increase the number of advanced degrees in the mathematical sciences among underrepresented groups.

“We need diverse mathematicians with diverse experiences to solve today’s complex problems in energy, food production, and health,” Olver said. “This program expands the University of Minnesota’s diversity efforts to a global level.”

To learn more, visit the AIMS website.

This article originally appeared on the College of Science and Engineering website.