27 Aug African Institute for Mathematical Science (AIMS)
The African Institute for Mathematical Sciences is an institution founded by Neil Turok in 2003 with its maiden location in South Africa. The institution’s objective of raising the next Einstein from Africa through distinct programs and initiatives lead to the opening of several branches across the Africa continent. Among such programs and initiatives for achieving the goal are the AIMS masters and research program and the Next Einstein Initiative. Currently, there are five main branches; AIMS-Ghana, AIMS-South Africa, AIMS-Senegal, AIMS-Cameroon, AIMS-Tanzania running the AIMS masters program.
AIMS masters program is a 10 months taught (and intensive) masters program in Mathematics which presents an environment where professors and tutors from didifferent parts of the world as well as students from across the African continent live and interact academically and socially with the main aim of producing students who can eefficiently and effectively contribute to solving Africa’s challenges. The course structure of the AIMS taught masters program is categorized into 3 different phases; the skills phase, review phase and the essay phase with the skills and review phase subdivided into blocks of length at three weeks. In each block, students are graded through weekly individual and group assignments as well as end of block presentations. All weekly assignments must be typed in the Latex typing environment and submitted by a stipulated deadline before the beginning of a new week.
The skills phase, consisting of at least three blocks, harness the computing skills, mathematical problem solving skills, physical problem solving skills as well as build an entrepreneurial character in students so as to enable them develop recent mathematical models which will help tackle challenges in their environment.
The review phase is divided into six blocks with each block consisting of at most three elective courses which are to prepare students for future academic and industrial work. Students are required to select at most two electives in each block with a minimum of eleven courses at the end of the review phase. By the end of the review phase each student must have conducted and presented a mini-project on a particular course in any of the blocks. This method is set in place to enhance the scientific writing and oral skills of students.
The essay phase is a two months long period of scientific research where students engage actively on a particular topic. During this period students interact with their supervisors and tutors through various mode of communication on the progress of their thesis. Students are graded based on their scientific writing and oral presentation skills as well as the content of their thesis report.
The student-professor relationship at AIMS is more intimate as the professors are housed in the same environment as the students and they tend to dine with the students. The professors not only teach the students during the lecture period but also stay around even as late as midnight and assist students with any kind of difficulty. This kind of relationship makes students feel more comfortable as this relationship is not common in most African universities. The tutors also stay up late just trying to help students with their problems.
Despite the intensive academic work, there are other extracurricular activities such as field trips, games,
outreach, just to mention but a few which are put in place to ensure a healthy condition of students.