Mathematics-in-Industry NZ Study Groups How we do it in New Zealand
Mark McGuinness, Adjunct Professor, University of Limerick, Professor of Applied Math, Victoria University of Wellington, NZ
Mathematics in Industry Study Groups have been very successful in Australia and New Zealand every year since 1984, when the Ockendons from Oxford toured our countries and got them started. They have now given birth to the MINZ Study Groups (minz.org.nz) which are exclusively New Zealand based. And MINZ Study Groups are off to a flying start, thanks in large part to fantastic support from the NZ government through KiwiNet.org.nz (yes, the paradox here is that our national bird, the kiwi, is actually flightless). Professor Graeme Wake is a tireless promoter of MINZ, with a bevy of academics backing him, as well as ANZIAM NZ branch.
This year MINZ will be held at Massey University in Palmerston North, 26-30 June, shortly after the ESGI in Limerick. Problems already lined up for MINZ2017 include washing machine effectiveness, something from Fonterra on milk and dairy, toxic algae, and mussel farming.
Last year MINZ was hosted at Victoria University of Wellington by co-directors Mark McGuinness and Graeme Wake, and grappled with problems on steel mill finishing rolling, weighing fast fruit on multiple weigh points, solar power interaction with the NZ national grid, milk powder life-times, and zespri fruit quality. There was close cooperation with Japan’s Institute of Mathematics in Industry at Kyushu, who brought a problem related to global warming and six Japanese academics. Our Minister of Science opened the Study Group, and the Japanese Ambassador to New Zealand spoke at the Dinner.
MINZ first started in 2015 at Massey University in Auckland with Graeme at the helm, working on identifying perpetrators of retail theft, processing milk powder, calibrating imaging of fast fruit, clothes dryer cut offs, frequency control in the NZ national power grid, and livestock improvement in the dairy industry.
The style of MINZ Study Groups is similar to the ESGI model, an intensive week of work by about a hundred students and academics on a selection of five or six problems, with the addition of Moderators who are responsible for leading the group working on each Challenge. The reports generated by a MINZ Study Group are also refereed and eventually published in the ANZIAM Journal, subject to approval from the relevant industry.