SECS Past Events

NZSA Conference Events

YearNZSA Conference EventsLocation
2018SECS Event at NZSA Conference 2018
Tuesday 27th November, 5:30-7pm
Wharerata, Massey University
Palmerston North
2017Monday 11th December 2017 5:30-7:30pm

The Bluestone Room, Durham Lane, Auckland

MINZ – Mathematics in Industry NZ

Year & LocationMathematics in Industry for NZ 
2015More than 100 of New Zealand’s mathematical scientists met in Auckland in late June and early July 2015 to use mathematics and statistics to solve industry problems. A week-long workshop was held as a way for companies to pitch their problems to people from around the region who then worked collaboratively to generate practical solutions through modelling, statistical analysis or computation.

Companies to attend the event included white ware manufacturer Fisher and Paykel who wanted to optimize the operation of their clothes dryer, fresh produce packing company Compac Sorting wanting a solution to a calibration issue with their spectroscopic systems and start-up crime prevention company Eyedentify needing to improve their crime prevention algorithms. Others in attendance presenting problem challenges were dairy giant Fonterra, national grid operator Transpower and farm management group Livestock Improvement Corporation. For more see

Event organiser Professor Emeritus Graeme Wake says the first workshop was a success with the teams reporting excellent progress at the end of the week. “More work will be required to complete the solutions but follow-on discussions are already being planned” Professor Wake says.

“The collaborative groups transform how industries see and approach problems. It’s a fast, effective and productive avenue for them to use.  Further the large number of postgraduate students present had hands-on experience of handling industry and community based problems using mathematics and statistics.”

Other contributors to the workshops include the NZ Mathematical Society, Callaghan Innovation, the ANZ Industrial and Applied Mathematics Group, KiwiNet, Te Pūnaha Matatini – a Centre of Research Excellence in Complex Systems and Networks, ANZ Industrial and Applied Mathematics group and the Mathematical Sciences Group of AUT University.

Coverage from the week-long event is in various media. KiwiNet, who partnered running the event with Massey University, provided short videos on Youtube, see

Also providers like Callaghan Innovation have posted blogs, see

Pictured are the invited speakers (except Professor Shaun Hendy, University of Auckland who was absent at the time), from left: Dr Maria Bruna (University of Oxford, UK), Professor Emeritus Graeme Wake (Director of the event), Hon Ruth Richardson (Chair of KiwiNET) who opened MINZ-SG, and Dr Boris Baeumer (Chair of the NZ Branch of ANZIAM and University of Otago).

Graeme Wake
2018 AUT Auckland Campus, 25-29 JuneMathematics-in-Industry NZ (MINZ) events offer a collaborative approach to industry problem solving, where mathematical scientists tackle real life problems shared by companies.

This week-long intensive period of collaborative brain-storming is a great way of solving problems arising in industry and the environment.

This year the challenges have been set by six fantastic businesses; Sanfords, Transpower, Fonterra, Methanex, Fisher and Paykel Appliances and International Cable Protection Committee.

Get involved at AUT Auckland CBD Campus 25-20 June to solve interesting and vital industry challenges to help New Zealand businesses innovate and grow.

During the week long MINZ study group you will get to meet and work with fellow mathematicians from NZ and around the world to demonstrate your skills directly to industry representatives.
2017 Massey University, Palmerston NorthCompanies tap into mathematical think-tanks

Students and researchers fired up their collective brain-power this week at Massey University’s Manawatū campus to solve real industry problems during a unique study week.

Now in its third year and supported by long-time partner KiwiNet, Mathematics in Industry New Zealand’s (MINZ) week-long event brings together a mixture of students and researchers with backgrounds in mathematics, statistics, engineering, and computer science, to solve real industry challenges.

This included a mixture of academics and students of all levels from across New Zealand, Australia, South Korea, Fiji, and from Italy.
This year the challenges came from six leading businesses in New Zealand, including Fonterra, Zespri, Transpower, Fisher& Paykel-appliances, Sanford Ltd and Horizons Regional Council. The presentations were far from static equations on whiteboards. In particular, the modelling of the mechanical action of a Fisher & Paykel washing machine looked less like mathematics and more like art.

Fonterra’s challenge asked their team to predict the flavour profile of their milk powders with students applying both statistical approaches and modelling to analyse the chemicals involved in finding what chemicals caused different tastes. Fonterra’s Lisa Hall, a former participant come challenge setter that has seen the results of the work produced by MINZ. “The work done by last year’s participants was being utilised within weeks of the event. Successes like this are why we keep coming back year after year with new problems.”

The group’s showed no shortage of mathematical firepower to tackle the issues, with Massey’s Distinguished Professor Robert McLachlan on hand to assist the group tasked with optimising the monitoring of the fresh water network in the Horizons’ Region and Zespri’s group having the considerable experience of Emeritus Professor Graeme Wake.
Event co-director Dr Luke Fullard, of Massey’s Institute of Fundamental Sciences says both industry and participant walk away from the week with much more than they entered with. “MINZ is unique because it allows a collaborative approach to industry problem solving, where mathematical scientists tackle real life problems shared by companies. Collaborative brain-storming is a great way of solving problems arising in industry and the environment.

“Mathematics is more relevant today as it has ever been. Educators looking for ways to inspire the youth of today in the importance of maths should look no further than the Mathematics in Industry NZ study week. KiwiNet Chief Executive James Hutchinson spoke at the presentation day and said, “this week has been a fascinating and real insight into some excellent work. KiwiNet value our involvement with this event as our mantra is driving scientific discovery into new business for the benefit of New Zealand.” “A lot of people tried to crack the code as to how researchers can work with Industry – that’s what is great about MINZ, they’ve done it here.”

Emeritus Professor Graeme Wake says “In fields such as Engineering and Biology it is easy to see their influence in civilisation through bridges or phones, medicines and food. Conversely, the field of mathematics is often invisible in real-world applications despite being, the backbone of practically everything we do.” “The study week concept has been going now for over half a century around the world. MINZ is an event which aims to promote the benefits and diverse applications of mathematics by linking mathematicians with industry problems.” Another highlight of the week came from Invited guest, Dr Melanie Roberts from IBM Research Australia, who spoke to participants on Wednesday as a shining example of an academic who has made the transition into industry with outstanding success. Her talk explored two problems in weather impacted operations, focussing on the insurance industry and how companies can mitigate and respond to weather events.

Photo: University of Canterbury's Associate Professor Mathieu Sellier in discussion with students.
Photo: participant Marnus Stoltz and Professor Graeme Wake working on a problem for Zespri.
2016The combined power of New Zealand’s best and brightest mathematical scientists was engaged in solving significant business challenges at New Zealand’s second annual Mathematics-in-Industry NZ event, 4th – 8th July 2016 at Victoria University, Wellington.

Successfully implemented in about 20 countries worldwide, these intensive week-long workshops offer a collaborative environment to solve problems arising in industry. Scientists participate from a range of mathematical disciplines such as dynamical systems, statistics, and operational research.

This unconventional model sees companies paying $6000 each up-front for the rare opportunity to have their meatiest challenges tackled by mathematicians from across the country.

New Zealand businesses that participated in 2016, include:

NZ Steel – Improving how the steel finishing rolling through modelling
Compac Sorting Equipment – Estimating the weight of a moving article across multiple weigh points
Transpower –Understanding how home solar electrical generation affects the national grid.
Fonterra – Predicting the length of time milk powders can be stored in elevated temperatures and humidity
Zespri – Predicting fruit quality in the supply chain from harvest to market.
This year a new dimension was been added with representatives from Japan’s Institute of Mathematics in Industry in Kyushu attending MINZ, and NZ mathematicians joining Japan’s Study Group week later in July.  This has come about with funding from the NZ Royal Society and the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science.  We also had a challenge from the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology entitled
Jamstec – Smoother probabilistic distributions in climate prediction models.

The New Zealand event is championed by Professor Emeritus Graeme Wake of Mathematics-in-Industry New Zealand (MINZ), who co-Directed the workshop with Professor Mark McGuinness from Wellington. Professor Wake has been involved in the concept since his time as a Postdoctoral Fellow in Oxford where it was first launched. Professor Wake is passionate about the impact of applied mathematics noting, “These events are often the launch pad for long term partnerships between mathematicians and businesses, powering up innovation within industry”.

The event was opened by government Minister Hon. Steve Joyce and Pro-VC Science VUW Mike Wilson (seated above, with co-Director, Professor Emeritus Graeme Wake), and had invited speakers Professor Andrew Fowler from Limerick/Oxford Universities, Dr Mary Quinn CEO of Callaghan Innovation, and Japanese Ambassador to NZ: His Excellency Toshihisa Takata (pictured, on right). 

Compac is a keen supporter of the concept, having seen the power of Mathematics in Industry in action. Compac’s R&D Manager, Nigel Beach comments, “The support of the math group helped us transform how we sort products into fixed weight packaging. This avenue was fast, effective and productive for our team”.

Global dairy giant, Fonterra, has been involved in several Mathematics-in-Industry events in Australia. Fonterra’s Calibration Technologist, Jo Simpson comments, “The support of the math group increased our confidence that the procedures we have in place met or exceeded international best practice. This event is an efficient process to have a large group of experts looking at a specific industry issue.”

New Zealand mathematicians and businesses have previously taken part in joint events run by the Australia and New Zealand Industrial Applied Mathematics (ANZIAM). Professor Wake comments, “Kiwi businesses have previously had to travel across the Tasman to participate in these events, but now we are running this event right in our back yard.”

This year’s MINZ initiative was supported by the Centre for Mathematics-in-Industry in Massey University, ANZIAM (A/NZ Industrial and Applied Mathematics Group), KiwiNet (NZ’s national network of Universities and Crown Research Institutes and Entities), New Zealand Mathematical Society and Victoria University where the event is being held.

Dr Bram Smith (pictured), General Manager of the Kiwi Innovation Network (KiwiNet) believes the model is highlycompelling. Smith comments, “There is a wealth of world leading mathematics and statistical capability in Universities and Crown Research Entities across New Zealand that are hungry to solve industry problems. It’s great to see mathematicians working together to provide this creative new approach to drive business innovation”.

More than 100 mathematicians, a number of whom were postgraduate students participated. A summary and technical report will be prepared with aim of future publication in the ANZIAM Journal Series E.

“Mathematics-in-Industry is an extremely powerful and effective initiative to solve industry challenges. It enables businesses to focus on operations and lets mathematicians focus on what they do best – solve industry problems” notes Professor Graeme Wake. “NZ will benefit immensely from the greater use of clever mathematics in these organisations”.

To see more information, visit

Seumas McCroskery
Innovation Manager, KiwiNet
Mobile: +64 (0) 21 617 752