On your mark, get set—solve!

    Award-winning math instructor mentors the next generation of math olympians.

    By Kristy Condon on July 7, 2015

    Associate professor Dragos Hrimiuc of the Department of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences has been named the winner of the 2015 PIMS (Pacific Institute for the Mathematical Sciences) Education Prize. He is in good company—five of the award’s 18 winners since its inception in 1998 have hailed from the University of Alberta.

    The award recognizes individuals in Western Canada and Washington State who have played a major role in encouraging activities that enhance public awareness and appreciation of mathematics as well as fostering communication among various groups concerned with mathematical education at all levels.

    "Dragos Hrimiuc is an outstanding educator who has inspired many students over his years of teaching and has done much to communicate the essence of mathematical thought to high school students and undergraduates,” remarks Martin Barlow, Interim Director of PIMS.

    Hrimiuc is the current president of the Alberta High School Mathematics Competition (AHSMC), the first province-wide high school mathematics competition in Canada, and has been on the board since 1999. “It’s key, if you plan to make a career in mathematics, for a student to go to these competitions,” he explains. “Not even just mathematics—even if you plan to study other subjects in science, engineering or economics, it is a useful brain exercise and an assessment of your math abilities to solve these challenging contest problems.”

    Since he attended math competitions himself as a student in Romania, Hrimiuc understands first-hand the importance of supporting gifted students. “When I was a student I participated to many contests in mathematics,” he says. “Immediately after my graduation I was involved in many activities related to math competitions—a hobby that I still have these days.

    A founder and editor of Pi in the Sky magazine, a math publication for high school students and teachers, Hrimiuc has also been a regular contributor to the publication over its 15-year history. The magazine is distributed to schools in Alberta, British Columbia, and Washington state, and features math-related problems, challenges, and jokes.