SIAM News Blog

Founding a New SIAM Student Chapter at TU Delft

By Manuel Baumann

I was offered the opportunity to share some (personal) experiences about our Delft University of Technology Chapter of SIAM, which was founded in fall 2014. The story of our student chapter begins slightly earlier with so-called baNaNa talks - a series of informal lectures for and by PhD students in the Department of Numerical Analysis. The talks cover software tools and practical aspects from the life of the (young) mathematical researcher. Based on this framework, a small group of active PhD students founded the student Chapter in Delft – the first one in the Netherlands. Throughout the whole process, the chapter received great support from faculty advisors at TU Delft as well as from SIAM. For our kick-off meeting, former SIAM president Irene Fonseca sent us this video message.

Student Krylov Day 2015

From my point of view, it is most feasible for a young chapter to concentrate on one main yearly event. Biased by the research interests of our board, we decided to organize the SIAM Student Krylov Day 2015. For this one-day workshop, we invited PhD students from other SIAM chapters in Europe as well as students from Dutch universities that we had met during previous conferences. The day consisted of talks about theory and applications of Krylov methods by participating PhD students. Peter Sonneveld from TU Delft also gave a historical talk on IDR(s), a short-recurrence Krylov method developed in 2008. Pictures and more details can be found in an article in SIAM News.

Bi-monthly baNaNa Talks

Besides the main event, the TU Delft student chapter organizes regular baNaNa talks. These seminars differ from other talks in two aspects: firstly, we usually meet after the official working day, and secondly, the presenters do not prepare a lot of slides but instead start a learning-by-doing session live with their laptops. The content of the talks cover a wide range of software tools that can be beneficial, especially for researchers in numerical linear algebra:

  • Version control with git, and efficient collaboration using github or bitbucket
  • How to use the LAPACK and BLAS libraries
  • Linking Python with (fast) C/Fortran code
  • The new programming language Julia
  • Latex best-practice and reference management using JabRef
  • The CFD open source tool OpenFOAM.

Visit to TATA Steel

Since we are proper applied mathematicians, the student chapter also visited a Dutch steel company. A company visit is a great opportunity to attract new members for the chapter. In our case, a former collaborator of our group was the contact to TATA. The visit itself consisted of talks about numerical methods used at TATA and a tour o the steel factories.

Delft University of Technology Chapter of SIAM visiting TATA Steel.

The Social Component

An important part of a SIAM student chapter is the social component. At the end of each academic year we organize a BBQ on campus, and all members and their families are invited. Moreover, we meet for movie nights and show movies with mathematical content, such as Enigma or The Theory of Everything. Overall, I met a lot of enthusiastic colleagues through the TU Delft student chapter activities. If anyone considers founding a new SIAM student chapter at his/her university, please do not hesitate to ask us for more information!

   Manuel Baumann is a PhD student at Delft University of Technology under the supervision of Kees Vuik and Martin van Gijzen. His research focuses on preconditioning techniques for the wave equation.
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