Highlands College Students Explore their Interests Mathematically


Jeff Draper stands with his electric guitar which was part of his research at Highlands CollegeTechnical math students at Highlands College recently presented posters summarizing their research, creative, and scholarly activities at the Montana Two-Year College Research Symposium. Students from across the Montana University System’s two-year colleges were in attendance.

Student researchers and their topic included:
Jaime DeLisi: Future Public Transportation – Passenger Drones
Kramer Dunham: Correcting for Elevation Differences Between a Hunter and Their Target Tyler Dyk – DIY Laser Engraver
Serena Grundhauser: Stability of Motorcycles with Rake and Trail
Jacob May: History of Cycloids
Michael McCormack Sr., and Wyatt Anderson: Precision Machining and Mathematics
John Vanek: Electric Guitar String Vibrations

Highlands College faculty member Jeff Draper mentored students in their open-ended investigations, stoking enthusiasm and connecting mathematics to interests beyond the classroom. Jeff commented that “the emphasis was to try connect their personal interests to topics from class such as precision and accuracy, tolerances, and trigonometry. We mostly operate in the context of math-for-the-trades. These projects gave students an opportunity to branch out beyond that.” A project management approach common in the workplace was utilized for students to practice developing scopes, timelines, reporting procedures, and more.

“Jeff’s mentoring of math students not only strengthened learning about math,” said Dr. Dave Gurchiek, the Dean of Highland’s College. “He also stretched learning one step further as students conducted research using math concepts.” Dr. Heather Conley, Assistant Dean of Highlands College continued, “We fully embrace our faculty members and students’ participation in research, creative, and scholarly activities.”