SIAM News Blog

Reflecting on a Year of Digital Communications

By Becky M. Kerner

We have just closed out the first-ever year during which nearly all SIAM events took place virtually — phew! As we reflect on the past year and its challenges, it is uplifting to see that we have certainly learned a great deal.

I was continually impressed by how quickly our community adapted and came together to maintain productivity on valuable work and collaborations, all by taking advantage of the technology at our fingertips. From virtual conferences, panels, career fairs, and committee meetings to productive exchanges of information through Engage, activity group webinars, social media, SIAM News, emails, and more — 2021 was definitely a year of online communication. The SIAM Marketing and Communications team had our work cut out for us, and we took the opportunity to push ourselves and challenge our thinking, explore new ways of doing things, and adapt novel technologies to keep the community together virtually. Here are some of this year’s Marketing milestones.

Career Fairs 

Have you attended a career fair at a SIAM conference in previous years? These events have historically occurred in person, so 2021 marked our first-ever virtual fairs! We are proud to have hosted two virtual career fairs last year—in March and November—that offered hundreds of job-seekers the opportunity to network with representatives from leading companies and organizations. In total, we hosted 27 companies and 750 participants, which resulted in nearly 1,800 engaging conversations during the fairs. If you think that your company may be interested in partnering with SIAM as a sponsor or participating in our next career fair, email [email protected]!

Virtual Conferences

SIAM achieved another first in 2021 by holding all major conferences completely virtually. You may have been one of the nearly 10,000 people who participated in a virtual conference; if so, thank you for your engagement! Although virtual events are undoubtedly different from in-person gatherings, SIAM staff worked hard to find a platform and structure that allowed for collaboration and learning, even when attendees were not face-to-face with each other. We had more than 63,500 visits to our virtual event platforms this year and 5,000+ visits to the exhibit halls, where attendees connected with our sponsors and corporate partners; we also hosted over 6,000 virtual talks. In 2022, we’ll be embarking on a new journey to master hybrid conferences. Check our conference calendar for up-to-date conference listings and details.

MathWorks Math Modeling Challenge (M3 Challenge)

SIAM’s M3 Challenge spotlights applied mathematics and technical computing as powerful problem-solving tools and viable, exciting professions. Michelle Montgomery, the M3 Challenge Project Director, started the program 17 years ago; since then, SIAM’s Marketing and Communications team has managed it under her direction. 2021 was a milestone year for M3 Challenge because it marked the contest’s international expansion — participation is now open to students in England and Wales as well as the U.S. Of the 535 participating teams in 2021, 57 of them hailed from outside the U.S. We also held the final event virtually—for the first time in M3 Challenge history—during which top teams presented their solutions and SIAM staff, judges, special guests, and student representatives spoke (see Figure 1). Nearly 52,000 students have partaken in M3 Challenge to date, after which 25 percent of them report that they are more likely to pursue a degree/career in STEM. The contest has awarded $1.65 million in scholarships to over 3,300 students. Visit the M3 Challenge website to learn more about how you can volunteer as a judge or submit a problem topic.

Figure 1. At the virtual final event of the 2021 MathWorks Math Modeling Challenge, which took place in April 2021, top teams presented their solutions and SIAM staff, judges, special guests, and student representatives delivered remarks.

Social Media and Video Engagement

Do you follow us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube? We now have a combined 68,000 followers on these platforms and our M3 Challenge channels, all of whom are keeping up-to-date with SIAM happenings and general math in the news. In 2021, we added upwards of 70 videos to our YouTube channel—many of which are from virtual panels, conference talks, and webinars—and had an impressive 202,000+ views of SIAM videos on YouTube (amounting to 6,300+ hours of watch time)! We also produced a video about mathematics’ importance in the development of the COVID-19 vaccine, which features SIAM member Jeffrey Sachs of Merck & Co., Inc. Visit us on YouTube to browse our full collection of educational videos. We were also thrilled to see that our monthly Unwrapped e-newsletter was opened more than 150,000 times in 2021 — a 50 percent increase from the prior year. Thank you for staying engaged!

Public Relations

We’ve distributed several national press releases that featured our community’s research on topics that were especially timely in 2021, including vaccination and social distancing protocols, student debt, and gerrymandering. These efforts landed media coverage in Forbes, WCGO Radio Chicago, Patch, NPR, Radio Health Journal, and California Business Journal, among many others. If you come across any recent SIAM News or journal articles that are of great public interest, please email [email protected] with the article or link.

Our community was more involved than ever in 2021, and applied mathematics and computational science have remained at the forefront of much crucial ongoing research around the world. Thank you for your continued important work, which allows us to communicate the value and significance of mathematics to a broader audience. Cheers to another productive year ahead!

Becky M. Kerner is the Director of Marketing and Communications at SIAM. 
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