Colleges and universities must meet an enormous variety of mathematical needs of their students. In technical programs, particularly those at two-year and technical colleges, mathematics instruction is closely tied to workplace applications. Traditionally, the narrow focus of such courses does little to enhance students' mathematical power. How can we develop technical mathematics courses that challenge and motivate all students while simultaneously providing them with the flexibility to change from one career area to another?
High school programs in contemporary technology are becoming more reliant on significant applications of mathematics. What mathematics is most valuable in high school programs that prepare students to enter the workforce and how will these classes reflect the NCTM Standards? Will a "different" program lead back to "tracking" and perceived inferior mathematics education for the students in tech prep?
Examples of mathematics found on the jobsite often require cost-effective solutions within the constraints of standard increments (e.g., pipe comes in increments such that each size fits inside the next larger size) and codes (e.g., building codes, mil-specs., FDA, FAA, EPA regulations). A builder might have to design a deck that uses just nine cubic yards of concrete with footers that meet local soil loading regulations. Examples of this class of problem in diverse technical workplaces will be examined, focusing on their implications for the design of standards-based mathematics curricula and assessment.
Who will develop the applied mathematics curriculum for the growing tech-prep movement -- technologists? educators? mathematicians? engineers? How can the mathematical community help bridge the gap between mathematics in school, which is largely devoid of real applications, and mathematics in practice, which is embedded in realistic industrial and policy problems? What role can members of SIAM play to help curriculum developers and school teachers introduce authentic context-based applications of mathematics into the new standards-based curricula?