MU SIGMA RHO AND THE COLLEGE BOWL

Don Edwards
University of South Carolina
National President, Mu Sigma Rho

What is Mu Sigma Rho? Mu Sigma Rho is the national honor society for statistics. Its Iowa State founders in 1969 stated its purpose as "the promotion and encouragement of scholarly activity in statistics, and the recognition of worthwhile achievement among the staff and students in eligible academic institutions". Today, Mu Sigma Rho has 20 chapters across the country. Besides the honoring of its inductees, Mu Sigma Rho has been very active in sponsoring or co-sponsoring sessions at ASA Meetings, such as the College Bowl in 1996 and 1997. Locally, chapters are involved in outreach activities such as judging science fair competitions and visiting high schools. Information about Mu Sigma Rho and the College Bowl is always near at hand on the Internet through the Mu Sigma Rho home page, http://www.stat.sc.edu/msrnatl.html. For example, the home page includes several issues of the national newsletter Mu Sigma Rhover, officer and chapter rep names, detailed information on the College Bowl, and the complete constitution and bylaws for the society.

Mu Sigma Rho members or affiliate members must be inducted by an established chapter or affiliate chapter. Undergraduate members must (1) have completed at least two years of coursework; (2) have at least eight semester hours (twelve quarter hours) of statistics, of which at least five semester hours (seven quarter hours) must be at the junior level or above; (3) have at least a 3.25/4.00 grade point average in all statistics courses taken; and (4) rank in the top third of their class in all coursework. Graduate members must (1) have completed twelve semester hours (eighteen quarter hours) of graduate courses in statistics; and (2) be a graduate student in good standing, with at least a 3.50/4.00 grade point average in all graduate level statistics courses. There is a nominal $5.00 charge for each new member, to pay for lettering of a certificate.

If you do not have a Mu Sigma Rho chapter at your College or University , but have had a statistics club or similar organization for at least one year, you are probably eligible to form a regular chapter; these can also be formed by several institutions in consortia. Additional requirements for forming a chapter are:

  1. must have at least 15 upperclass (junior, senior, and graduate) students majoring in statistics
  2. the undergraduate major (if any) must require at least 14 semester hours (21 quarter hours) in statistics
  3. the petitioning department or section must have at least one Ph.D. in statistics on its staff
  4. the petition must have the endorsement of the department or section of statistics chairperson
  5. at least five persons at the petitioning institution(s) must be eligible for membership and shall become charter members.

Affiliate chapters can also induct members. This category was created in recognition of the possibility that many small or mid-sized programs may not be able to satisfy the requirements for full chapter status, but may be affiliated with a local ASA chapter, which could be the home of an affiliate chapter. The requirements for an affiliate chapter are:

  1. it must be based at a non-academic institution or organization
  2. the petitioning organization must have on its staff or membership at least one person with a Ph.D. in statistics
  3. the petition shall have the endorsement of the executive officer of the petitioning organization, if any
  4. at least five members of the organization shall be eligible for membership and shall become charter members.

If you would like to form a chapter or affiliate chapter, contact Don Edwards, Dept. of Statistics, University of South Carolina, Columbia SC 29208; (803) 777-5073; Fax: (803) 777-4048; edwards@stat.sc.edu (and see the home page for more details).

What is The College Bowl? The College Bowl, sponsored by Mu Sigma Rho and cosponsored by the ASA Section on Statistical Education, is about learning Statistics and Statistics history, while having fun. Players and audience exercise their quick-thinking problem-solving prowess in a fast-paced, light-hearted competition with peers from other graduate programs. It's a needed break from technical sessions, and a great opportunity for students and faculty across the country to mix and have fun, and learn a thing or two about statistics in the process.

The Bowl has been held four times in the past, most recently at the Joint Meetings in Chicago, 1996, where teams representing eight excellent graduate programs (and six Mu Sigma Rho chapters) competed: Brigham Young, Chicago, Iowa, Iowa State, Nebraska, South Carolina, the Medical University of South Carolina, and Virginia Tech. After Tuesday morning's preliminary competition, emceed by Mark Payton of Oklahoma State, teams from Chicago, Virginia Tech, Iowa, and Iowa State advanced to Wednesday's second round, emceed by Bob "Boss" Hogg of Iowa. That morning, Chicago and Iowa State triumphed in their semifinal matches, and then in a heated final competition before a full house crowd of several hundred, the Cyclones surged ahead to win the Bowl for the second time in three years. The winning team from Iowa State consisted of Pam Abbitt, Kevin Dodd, Anindya Roy, and Pradipta Sarkar.

Besides the fun of participation and the knowledge and useful information learned, every student participant in every past Bowl has received an award. The 1996 College Bowl saw unprecedented corporate sponsorship, with 40 awards offered with a total dollar value exceeding $10,000! MathSoft, SAS, and StatXact each provided five copies of their professional software (Splus, SAS/JMP, and StatXact/Turbo, respectively). Minitab provided one professional version of its software. Addison-Wesley and Duxbury provided multiple copies of the student versions of Minitab, JMP/IN, and Data Desk, as well as selected books. Marcel Dekker and John Wiley & Sons each generously provided five students with a choice of any text from a list including nearly all of their in-press works. Several of the '96 Bowl sponsors have already expressed interest in returning as a sponsor in '97.

We need you for College Bowl V. Plans are well underway for a repeat performance of the Bowl at the 1997 Joint Statistical Meetings in Anaheim. Several of last year's teams plan to return. You can help by being the driving force in organizing your team. Don't wait, do it now! Deadline for registration is June 1, 1997. There are advantages to registering early, since any "byes" awarded will be given in order of registration. Awards are guaranteed for the top eight teams. Teams need not represent Mu Sigma Rho chapters. Teams from the west coast are especially encouraged, as they have been underrepresented in the past. Teams will consist of four players who are or have been full-time students at some time during the year. No alternate will be required this year; if for some reason a player is unable to compete, the team plays with three. Team players need not be from the same university. There is no monetary registration fee for teams. All that is required for registration is: (1) The players on a team make a serious commitment to attend the meetings and compete; (2) Each team submit 10-20 (good) questions to be used in the competition. Your team is not registered until its questions are submitted; send these to: Mark Payton, Department of Statistics, Oklahoma State University, Stillwater OK 74078; mpayton@okway.okstate.edu. More details such as College Bowl rules, history, and example questions with answers are shown on the College Bowl home page, which can be reached through the Mu Sigma Rho home page mentioned above. Anyone (students or faculty) may write the questions; care will be taken to ensure that a team will not be asked one of its own questions in competition.


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