Mathematics Training and Talent Search Programme- igniting young minds since 1993

The history of mathematics is as old as human history. It
has evolved from simple counting, measurement and calculation to the systemic study of shapes
and motion of physical and ephemeral objects. Today, there are a number of
applications and formulae to solve any complex or imaginative theory. With the
aim to expose young minds to these depths, the Mathematics Training and
Talent Search (MTTS) Programme was started in 1993. MTTS is the brain child of
Prof S. Kumaresan, currently teaching at the School of Mathematics and
Statistics, University of Hyderabad.

MTTS is a four week programme conducted between May and June
every year. It is a free of cost training programme for students who are pursuing
either engineering or science studies. This programme has been divided into
three levels; level O, level 1 and level 2. Each level has a batch of 40
students and 4 resource people. “I participated in 1998 while I was doing my
B.Sc from Nashik. This programme was unlike classroom teaching. Though it was
basic maths, we had more room to explore & wander around and learnt how to
resolve any problems that occur. It was only after this programme I realised
that further studies are possible in the field of mathematics.” said Prof.
Ananthnarayan Hariharan, currently teaching at IIT Bombay.

It is easier for some students to pick-up concepts in class
while others struggle. This programme helps students to understand the basic
concepts of a topic, how to attack a problem and how to think of multiple ways
of solving a question etc. Prof P. S. Srinivasan of Bharathidasan University,
Tiruchirappalli, was a student participant in 1993 and since then has been
associated with MTTS. He shared, “As a teacher I feel this sort of programme
should happen in every field of study. Prof Kumaresan always tries to see
through the subject, its positives and negatives. As a result, MTTS has
continually evolved over the years.”

He further added, “University Grants Commission regularly
organises a lot of mandatory seminars for professors. Some colleges have also restricted their
staff and follow strict teaching and practical schedules. Hence,
teachers\professors who are willing to participate are unable to do so.”

PaGaLGuY also spoke to one of the members of the MTTS core
committee to learn more about this programme. Prof Ajit Kumar of the Institute of
Chemical Technology, Mumbai, said, “I was a student participant in 1995. I was
a tutor for few years, before I joined MTTS as a regular resource in 2003. Initially,
MTTS covered only major institutes but now regional institutes are also given a
priority to inspire students at all levels.”

In 2015, MTTS was organised at SSN College of Engineering,
Kalavakkam, Chennai. A participant, Sishu Kumar Muni, an M.Sc. Mathematics
student at NIT Rourkela, said, “The strategy adopted in this programme is
Think, Ask and Solve; which has helped me in developing my concentration. It
has taught me that the smallest basic things which I accepted just by intuition
require a rigorous mathematical proof.”

The committee faces several issues and challenges like infrastructure,
catering, availability of resource personnel, student applications and
advertisements while organising MTTS programmes. Even then, the programme
celebrated its 23rd anniversary in 2015, with the help of Prof
Kumaresan’s proficiency and the MTTS committee’s support.