Applied mathematics major Alex McMillian is halfway through his first semester in college, but he is classified as a sophomore. And that’s no surprise to his faculty mentor and mathematics professor Wei-Chi Yang. The Carroll County High School graduate is known for his eagerness for more challenging work. “He is far ahead of other classmates. When I slow down my pace, I will ask him to do some harder problems,” says Yang who teaches McMillian’s Math 430 Advanced Calculus class.
This semester, Yang took notice of McMillian's gift for mathematics and his dedication to his studies. "Math 430 is pretty abstract. Most students still live in calculus, ‘plug and chug’ answers, but Math 430 requires students to complete thorough proofs. So I spend time motivating my students about why we need such definition and how it is linked to what they have learned in a calculus course. Alex can almost bypass the 'motivation' stage and go right into the definition and theory, which is amazing," says Yang.
McMillian is now working with Yang on a research project to make the proof of Fundamental Theorem of Calculus (FTC) more accessible to students, and extend the proof to three dimensional. “The FTC is linked to Green’s, Divergence and Stokes’ Theorems, which have great applications in many applied sciences and engineering,” adds Yang.
Mathematics faculty member and McMillian’s advisor John McGee will also be conducting a project with him next semester. McMillian says that he is excited about all of the research opportunities available to him at Radford. These opportunities will give him the challenges he craves and offer him a chance to network with other mathematicians who are fascinated with math and its role in our lives.
Learn more about Alex McMillian.