Math Symposium allows students to showcase their skills

Maxis L. Bryant

With interests ranging from biology, mathematics, coding, relevant technology in the making and even art in some aspects, many students found a place to display and present their passions at the Ogden College. Undergrad, graduate and Gatton Academy students were present during the 38th annual WKU Mathematics Symposium.

Students arrived at Ogden Hall Nov. 9-10 to either present or attend the various presentations given. Many were experiment showcases, lectures and speeches by well-known award winning people in scientific fields and debates between students.

Gatton seniors, Devin Davis and Elvin Irihamye, presented their project at the symposium on Saturday. The two had created– and are still in the process of tweaking– a facial recognition program.

The program compares the three most look-a-like people by facial features based on factors such as race, gender and body orientation. Both Davis and Irihamye said the program has 70 percent accuracy in identifying a chosen person, 80 percent accuracy for identifying race and 70 percent accuracy for identifying gender. 

The two presented the program to an audience in one of Ogden’s classrooms. They showed off the proficiency of the program by using it on the Ogden College of Science & Engineering staff directory to identify different professors and department heads.

“We spent half the semester working on this project,” Irihamye said. “We took it on, and we really had fun doing it.”

The two had to first learn all the math involved before they started on the actual program itself. Davis said though it was a long and troublesome process, they had peer help and advising from Bruce Kessler, the department head of mathematics.

Kessler said the symposium always draws a mix of people with a variety of skills. 

“We’ve had people that are very heavy mathematicians,” Kessler said. “We’ve also had folks who probably are heavy mathematicians but choose to show us how they teach and cool things that they do.” 

The committee that hosts the symposium has already planned to meet to discuss the next one. Kessler said the earlier they start, the better speakers they can get next time. 

The symposium is known for bringing in well-known, award winning people from various scientific fields. These speakers bring insight from their fields to students about to enter them.

“I was thinking it was going to be strictly algebraic, calculus based,” Makayla Carter, a senior Biology major, said. “It had different applications that could be used in the medical field, which is handy for my part since I plan on going to med-school anyway.”

Carter said she isn’t strictly going into a math field, but she still found things she could appreciate at the symposium. 

“If you could come open-minded, then you’ll be able to find something you like here too,” Carter said.

There were 38 events in total at the symposium. The events were categorized into sessions such as physics and analytics, analysis, algebra and probability, mathematical biology, computational algorithms and several others.

The symposium was sponsored by Ogden College, WKU Math Department and Gatton Academy.

Features reporter Maxis L. Bryant can be reached at 270-745-6291 and [email protected].