Engineering Week 2017: A Math Connection

Shown above at a recent MATHCOUNTS chapter competition are (from left) Jason Littleton, Capital Chapter coordinator; Lukas Negron, a 7th grade participant; GRW employee Mary Beth Robson, a Capital Chapter MATHCOUNTS coach; and a MATHCOUNTS representative from WKU, where the state competition is slated to take place in March 2017.

While many people have convinced themselves they’re "not a math person" and are happy to avoid it, most engineers simply can't get enough math. 

And when you're young – and enjoy math – it can be important to remain challenged and inspired by the subject. Finding opportunities to do this is one of the main goals of MATHCOUNTS. 

According to its website, MATHCOUNTS provides engaging math programs to U.S. middle school students of all ability levels to build confidence and improve attitudes towards math and problem solving. It's described as a program that "helps students who love math, and students who fear math." And the nonprofit organization has been doing it for more than 30 years. 

The Kentucky Engineering Foundation, Inc., in conjunction with the Kentucky Society of Professional Engineers in Frankfort, are Kentucky’s MATHCOUNTS main sponsors. 

Many professional engineers, including GRW's Mary Beth Robson, are active with Kentucky MATHCOUNTS. Robson has been coaching a MATHCOUNTS team in Frankfort for more than 11 years. Other GRW employees have been involved with the program over the years as well.

Robson first got involved with MATHCOUNTS by grading and test proctoring for the MATHCOUNTS competitions. When one of her daughters was about to enter 6th grade -- and she realized her school didn't have a MATHCOUNTS team - Robson decided to start one.

Leading up to Engineers Week 2017 (February 19-25), Robson and her team, along with MATHCOUNTS chapters around Kentucky, participated in MATHCOUNTS chapter competitions. 

She agrees with the MATHCOUNTS mission, "This is a way to keep kids interested in math - and to go beyond.” Robson works with GRW’s civil engineering division and has more than 28 years of experience.

Now that Robson’s children are in college – why does she remain involved? She continues to coach because of the enthusiasm of the students. She said, “It’s fun for me to watch kids have fun with math.”

For the “not-a-math-person” group, perhaps the goal should be to avoid judging math too soon; it may hold more benefits than pre-calculus seemed to inspire. After all, a concession stand sells a 16-ounce drink for $4: If the price is directly proportional to the amount of drink served, what is the price of a 20-ounce drink?

If you’re tracking a team, don’t forget about the state competition coming up at Western Kentucky University later in March. Find out more about Kentucky’s MATHCOUNTS here: http://www.kentuckymathcounts.org/competition-info.html

Other chapter locations can be found on the MATHCOUNTS website: https://www.mathcounts.org/findmycoordinator

More information about this national program is available at mathcounts.org.