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Kent recognized for innovation in STEM education

Deborah Kent, associate professor of mathematics at Drake University, is a finalist for a state award that recognizes innovation in STEM education.

The Technology Association of Iowa announced that Kent is one of five educators in the running for a 2017 Women of Innovation Award in the category of Academic Innovation and Leadership.

Students in Kent’s courses benefit from her strategic approach to incorporating classroom technology into the educational experience.

“Mathematical ideas must be powerfully integrated with technology in the modern world and I work hard to do this in the classroom,” Kent said. “I use technological tools to support the strengths of traditional thinking and to enable students to do things they wouldn’t otherwise be able to do.”

For example, Kent recently introduced a Numerical Linear Algebra course in which students used MATLAB, a high-performance language for technical computing—including data analytics and algorithm development. The MATLAB software empowers students to manipulate and visualize large data sets.

Kent also believes that innovation happens through collaboration. While designing this  computational course, she consulted with a variety of international experts in numerical methods.

“Her resulting class merged deep theoretical ideas with the challenges of coding and implementation to bridge a gap at Drake,” Sondra Ashmore, business partner at WR Berkley Corporation, said in an award nomination.

The award nomination also recognizes Kent’s national reputation for excellence in mathematics writing, and her emphasis on teaching students effectively to communicate technical information.

Kent is also the founding faculty advisor for Women in Mathematics and Computer Science, a Drake student group organized to unite, engage, educate, and empower women interested in mathematics and computer science.