2 SVETLANA KATO K an d SERG E TABACHNIKO V The final exams (three, in total) hav e the format whic h is quite unusual for a US university an d represent s a creative development o f certain Europea n traditions . A student draw s a random "ticket " tha t typicall y contains a theoretical question and a problem from th e course. The n the student ha s an hour to prepare her answers, an d she ha s n o acces s to literatur e o r lectur e note s durin g thi s hour . Th e examinatio n committee usuall y ha s thre e (sometime s four ) member s an d include s th e cours e instructor, th e teachin g assistant , an d anothe r Pen n Stat e facult y (o r two) . Th e answers t o th e ticke t question s tak e onl y abou t a thir d o f th e ora l examination . Another thir d i s a presentatio n o f th e researc h projec t associate d wit h th e course this presentation i s prepared i n advance and may involve slides, computer, etc . Th e last thir d o f the exa m i s an ope n forma t discussio n wit h th e committee . All element s o f MAS S ( 3 courses , th e semina r an d th e colloquium ) tota l 16 credit hours , al l recognize d a s Honor s classes , tha t ar e transferabl e t o MAS S par - ticipants' hom e universities . Additiona l recognitio n i s provided throug h prize s fo r best project s an d meri t fellowships . Eac h student i s issued a Supplement fo r MAS S Certificate whic h include s th e lis t o f MAS S course s wit h credits , grades , final pre - sentations, an d specia l achievements . I t als o include s th e description s o f MAS S courses, th e lis t o f MAS S colloqui a an d th e descriptio n o f MAS S progra m exams . These supplement s ar e ver y usefu l fo r th e student' s hom e institutio n equivalence s and enhanc e th e student' s application s t o graduat e schools . The mai n ide a o f th e MAS S Program , an d it s principa l differenc e fro m vari - ous honor s programs , mat h clubs , an d summe r educationa l o r researc h programs , etc., i s its comprehensive character . MAS S participants ar e literally immerse d int o mathematical studies . Sinc e th e progra m i s very intense , it s full-tim e participant s are not supposed t o take other classes. Al l the academic activities for a semester ar e specially designe d an d coordinate d t o enhanc e learnin g an d introduc e th e student s to researc h i n mathematics. Thi s produce s a quantum lea p effect: th e achievemen t and enthusias m o f MAS S student s increase s muc h mor e dramaticall y tha n i f the y had bee n expose d t o a simila r amoun t o f materia l ove r a longe r tim e i n a mor e conventional environment . A key feature o f the MAS S experience i s an intense an d productiv e interactio n among th e students . Th e environmen t i s designe d t o encourag e suc h interaction : a classroo m i s i n ful l possessio n o f MAS S an d furnishe d t o serv e a s a loung e an d a compute r la b outsid e o f clas s times . Eac h studen t ha s a ke y an d ca n ente r th e room 2 4 hours a day. Th e students liv e together i n a contiguous block of dormitor y rooms an d the y pursu e variou s socia l activitie s together . Th e effec t i s dramatic : the student s find themselve s member s o f a cohesiv e grou p o f like-minde d peopl e sharing a special formative experience . The y quickly bond, an d often remai n friend s after th e progra m i s over . The y stud y together , attac k problem s together , debu g programs together , collaborat e o n researc h project s and , mos t importantly , tal k mathematics mos t o f the time . The summe r program : RE U an d MAS S Fest . Th e Penn Stat e Summe r RE U (Research Experienc e fo r Undergraduates ) progra m starte d i n 1999 as an extensio n of MASS. Unlike MASS , this progra m i s not unique : currently , ther e ar e abou t 5 0 REU program s i n mathematics , availabl e t o undergraduat e student s i n th e USA . It doe s have some distinctive features though . First , th e Penn Stat e REU i s closely related t o MASS : about hal f o f it s participant s sta y fo r th e MAS S semeste r i n th e
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