Under the patronage of His Excellency Sheikh Nahayan Mabarak Al Nahayan, Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research and Chancellor of the Higher Colleges of Technology, the 9th HCT Maths Conference, “Geometry and Its Applications,” recently took place at the HCT’s Abu Dhabi Women’s College.
HE Sheikh Nahayan delivered a welcome speech emphasizing the importance of geometry and the role of maths in scientific innovation.
A pioneer in the art and science of origami paper-folding Dr. Robert J. Lang, in addition to specialist students from ADWC and faculty members from the Higher Colleges, also addressed maths students and faculty in several sessions throughout the day-long conference.
The HCT Maths Conference is an annual event at ADWC, and it plays a major part in the HCT’s continuing advancement in the teaching and learning of maths.
With a PhD in Applied Physics, Dr. Robert J. Lang devoted many years to the field of lasers and optoelectronics, in which he is the holder of 45 patents and the author or co-author of over 80 scientific papers. He has also authored, co-authored, or edited twelve books and a CD-ROM on origami.
Currently, he is a full-time artist and consultant on origami and its applications to engineering problems. His presentations at the Maths Conference showed how algorithms and theorems of origami design have been used to solve longstanding engineering challenges, including how to produce more effective airbags for automobiles.
In addition to hearing from Dr. Lang, students and maths teachers heard from Laura Waldusky, an ADWC faculty member in Applied Media, who explained how she went from dreading maths to appreciating the role geometry plays in visual arts and design.
Students then broke into a separate group in which they used geometry to fold paper in origami; designed a type font using mathematical rules and online software; and tessellated mathematical shapes to create new designs. The workshop on tessellations was taught by ADWC Applied Media students Jameela Hasan and Sara Ibrahim.
In their breakout groups, HCT maths teachers learned up-to-date methods in maths pedagogy from nine outstanding HCT maths faculty members. Topics included integrating specific software products and using origami to teach geometric vocabulary, among others.
HCT Vice Chancellor Dr Tayeb Kamali said the Higher Colleges were pleased to be hosting the Maths Conference for the ninth consecutive year, which continues to emphasize the importance of mathematics in education and in general life.
“The Higher Colleges of Technology maintains a commitment to excellence in education through a strong focus on successful student learning outcomes in areas such as maths, technology and innovation. This conference is responding to community and national needs, which demand student achievement and academic excellence so they can make important contributions to the United Arab Emirates,” Dr Kamali said.
“The conference will demonstrate that we value continuous improvement in teaching and learning, a solid commitment to student learning, and to the excellent preparation of graduates for a lifetime of useful and productive work and citizenship,” Dr Kamali added.
Dr. Jace Hargis, ADWC’s Director, asserted, “The teaching of maths is one of the most important things that happen at an institution of higher education. This effort to develop our faculty’s teaching skills will benefit students now and in future years.” HCT students who attended the conference have already begun to witness the benefit of understanding geometry in new ways. One student said of Dr. Lang’s student workshop, “I already loved origami before I heard about the maths behind it. Now it is even more interesting to me.”