The Co-operative (Co-op) Education program, which leads to the AIMS Master’s in mathematical sciences, was piloted at AIMS Senegal in 2015 and is now equally offered at AIMS Cameroon and AIMS Rwanda.
Building on the core Structured Master’s, the 18-month Co-op program is built on a model of work-integrated learning, a structured method of combining formal instruction with scheduled, alternative segments of practical work experience in appropriate industry. The program’s rationale is to increase the transition to meaningful employment for AIMS scholars by enriching their learning experience with acquiring competencies relevant to the workplace and their professional development. The program allows students to apply their scientific knowledge to real-world problems and transition from academic studies to gainful employment.
The Co-op program targets students with a background in mathematics or related sciences, strong leadership skills and interests in pursuing careers in industry (defined as private or public businesses, governmental/non-governmental organisations, and civil society).
The fully-funded Co-op program is implemented with the support of the Mastercard Foundation, Global Affairs Canada, as well as private/public sector partners.
Co-operative education, or Work-Integrated Learning (WIL), is an approach to education that integrates class-based learning into an authentic, work-based context. It is a professional stream within the existing Master’s program that provides students with a combination of academic training at AIMS and ‘hands-on’ work experience in a professional work environment enabling them to develop valuable work skills and successfully transition from school to progressive careers.
The AIMS Master’s in Mathematical Sciences curriculum runs through three semesters.
• Core courses are mandatory for all students for all programs, as well as an oral defence of the research project at the end of the academic year, followed by a graduation ceremony.
• Semester I Skills Courses are compulsory and designed to provide introductory and foundational material to all students, to achieve predefined outcomes, with little flexibility in their content. In this phase, the various programs have many courses in common.
• Semester II Review Courses include a wide range of topical issues and allow for flexibility in course design for each program.
• The structured program includes courses like optimal control, topology and functional analysis, numerical method for PDEs, computational commutative algebra, elliptic curve and cryptography, differential geometry, general relativity, quantum computing etc. While the Co-operative (co-op) program includes courses in machine learning, deep learning, neural network, computer security, data mining/web mining/text mining, biomathematics, database, mathematical modelling for network security, computational finance with python, case studies from industries in big data and computer security etc.
• Students are required to complete two out of the three available review courses in each time slot.
• The ongoing communication skills, entrepreneurship and leadership skills, as well as computing classes, are compulsory for all programs.
• Semester III is designed for work placement for co-op students and a simultaneous research phase for all programs.
• Co-op Students are required to spend six months of internship in a local or international company, to gain hands-on experience and prepare for future career opportunities. Co-op students are required to submit internship reports at the end of the work term. The research phase begins one month before the work placement and resumes in November at the end of the internship phase.
• Students enrolled in the structured program are required to define their research projects by January-February. During this phase, they get familiarized with the project, get to know their supervisors and start reading on their free time. As from April to the end of the program in June, structured program students focus solely on research.
• After defending their research projects before a jury composed of professors from universities in the host country and abroad, research students graduate in June, while co-op students graduate in February of the following year.