Mines News

Release Date Friday, April 22, 2016

New Initiative Bolsters Math Success for Future Scientists and Engineers

RAPID CITY, S.D. (April 22, 2016) – A new initiative at the South Dakota School of Mines & Technology, funded by the state Legislature, will support critical math-readiness skills of the next generation of scientists and engineers.

The MathSpark program will continue this summer, serving an estimated 600 future scientists and engineers thanks to $250,000 in support from the Legislature and Gov. Dennis Daugaard. Mines President Heather Wilson and five state legislators discussed details of the project during a Friday meeting with faculty members, students and the news media.

The goal of the program is to boost math skills to ensure incoming freshmen are equipped for the rigorous classes at Mines in order to better prepare students for jobs of the 21st century and continue to attract and keep great companies with good-paying jobs in South Dakota.

When the program began last summer the average student entering Mines had a 3.5 high school GPA and scored in the 88th percentile in math on the ACT exam. But 40 percent of incoming students earned a D or F or withdrew from their first math class at Mines.

Preliminary results from the 2015 pilot program showed significant improvement compared to the incoming 2014 freshman class, including a 9 percent increase in the pass rate of Algebra, a 5 percent increase in the pass rate of Trigonometry and a 12 percent increase in the pass rate of Calculus I.

MathSpark expands upon last summer’s successful distance education and mentorship pilot program funded through private donations.

The program uses distance online self-study review courses and mentorship by a Mines faculty member and intensifies math teaching for freshmen who are not ready for Calculus. The focused program may help more students master math and meet critical workforce needs.

The $250,000 pays for lecturers, graduate assistants in math labs and distance math mentors, overhead and materials, two summer lecturers, a summer program director and for a statistical analysis, program evaluation and reporting.

Joining President Wilson and math faculty and students were State Senators Terri Haverly, Deb Peters and Alan Solano and South Dakota State Representatives Jeff Partridge and Jacqueline Sly in discussing the new program.

The math initiative was funded through Senate Bill 92 during the legislative session that recently ended. Gov. Dennis Daugaard signed the law.


About SD Mines  

Founded in 1885, the South Dakota School of Mines & Technology is a science and engineering research university located in Rapid City, S.D., offering bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees. The university enrolls 2,778 students with a student-to-faculty ratio of 15:1. The SD School of Mines placement rate is 96 percent, with an average starting salary of $62,929. Find us online at www.sdsmt.edu and on Facebook and Twitter.


Contact: Fran LeFort, (605) 394-6082, Fran.LeFort