Maths Clinic

Maths Clinic

What is the Mathematics Clinic?

Our Clinic Projects are an academic-year-long course in which a team of three to five students work on a real-world industry problem sourced from a sponsoring industry, government or non-profit organisation which is then solved in an academic setting.

An academic advisor oversees the project, while a sponsor-designated liaison monitors the work effort, provides regular feedback and serves as a source of domain expertise on the specific problem. The students make a series of presentations and written progress reports over the course of the year, gaining experience with this important aspect of project work.

Clinic projects are technically difficult problems for which no prior guaranteed solution exists. This means they utilise and help build an exceptional mix of research and computing skills for our students. At the same time, the group structure and industrial exposure provides students with valuable real-world technical and managerial experience, an asset to them and their eventual employers.

What do the sponsors gain?

  • Useful project results such as prototype software, a feasibility study, a proof of concept, a system analysis a design proposal or a research summary
  • Retention of all Intellectual Property from resulting outcomes
  • A fresh insight on their problem from a talented team of students
  • A very cost effective way of solving their problem

Every Clinic Project culminates in a formal on-site presentation and a comprehensive final report.

What is the sponsor’s involvement?

  • Submission of a project statement prior to commencement
  • Appointment of a liaison to guide the team to desired results through weekly contact
  • Success will depend to a large extent on the quality of interaction between the liaison and the Clinic team
  • Payment of a Clinic fee in instalments over the academic year. Advice on the current Clinic fee can be obtained from the Clinic Director

Possible projects

The projects must focus on a major component of Mathematics and Computing and have the scope to provide a feasible challenge to the project team, without presenting them with an unachievable task.

Typically, projects might involve problems of a logistical nature, scheduling, statistical analysis, financial modelling, or environmental modelling, however any project featuring appropriate mathematical techniques will be considered.

In a previous year, the clinic group worked on a problem provided by Woolworths Supermarkets. This project involved a reorganisation of all product lines within their Gepps Cross warehouse in preparation for the introduction of rolling cages as a means of restocking shelves in their supermarkets. The clinic team developed techniques for modelling this problem, together with software for implementing a solution.

Another year the clinic group worked with the mining giant WMC Resources (part of the BHP Billiton Group) on maximising the utilisation of underground equipment at the Olympic Dam mine.

Timetable of events

  • December – February: the sponsor commits to the Clinic Program by providing a project statement
  • March: A student team is formed and project work commences
  • April: The project team submits a complete work proposal
  • July: A mid-term report is prepared and a sponsor site presentation is made
  • November (early): A final presentation is made in conjunction with engineering projects day
  • November (late): Final results and reports are delivered and a sponsor site presentation is made

Origin of the Mathematics Clinic

The Mathematics Clinic at the University of South Australia is the only Mathematics program of its type in Australia.

The Clinic is modelled on the internationally recognised Clinic program conducted at Harvey Mudd College in California which has been in operation since 1963. Since its inception at HMC, over 250 organisations have participated, resulting in over 1000 completed projects in the areas of Engineering, Computer Science, Mathematics, Physics or multidisciplinary areas. A testament to the success of this concept is the fact that many of the sponsors have returned several times to present new problems.

Contact information

For further information please contact:

A/Prof Lesley Ward
Mathematics Clinic Director
School of Information Technology & Mathematical Sciences
University of South Australia
Mawson Lakes Campus
Mawson Lakes 5095
South Australia

Phone: + 61 8 8302 3038
Fax: + 61 8 8302 5785

Areas of study and research

+ Click to minimise