Q&A With Harrison Tieman

Posted on Friday, December 17th, 2021

Written by Eliana Brereton

Harrison (Harry) Tieman is a fourth-year Mathematical Science major at the University of Guelph. Tieman has been consistently involved on campus throughout his degree, doing undergraduate research placements with professors, tutoring his peers, and is now hosting his own virtual classroom environments with the University’s Math Learning Centre. 

We spoke to Harry about his experience at U of G, his involvement on campus and with the Math Learning Centre, his leadership roles, and his undergraduate research positions. 

Why did you decide to come to the University of Guelph? 

In high school I visited a lot of different Universities and I absolutely fell in love with Guelph’s campus. Math has always been my favorite subject, and I really loved the energy that was given off by faculty in math and stats at Guelph when I was touring various universities. 

Photo of Harry Tieman

What has been your favorite memory at U of G so far? 

My favourite class memory has to be Matt Demers’ weekly math challenges in first/second year. The mental math challenges were almost like a game show where students would go to the front of the room and compete to answer questions as fast as they could. It really got the whole classroom engaged and it was an awesome environment to learn in.   

Picking a favorite memory social-life wise is impossible for me. I have met some of the most incredible people here and I genuinely cannot pick a favorite memory. The people I’ve met here have made the past three years go by in an instant. 

You have lots of undergraduate research lab experience – including your current placement with the Math Learning Centre. Can you speak on what your experience has been like? What is your role with the Math Learning Centre? 

This past semester I had the amazing experience of working as a research assistant to Professor Matt Demers where we were able to do research with different types of iterated function systems in constructing fractals. In that semester I was able to develop an interface for creating these fractal images and it was truly an incredible experience. There are lots of research assistantships available to undergraduate students in the summer semesters. Students should definitely try to apply for them! 

For this semester, the Math Learning Centre is in a virtual format, and so my role is to host virtual classroom environments where students can drop in and ask me any question they may have about their first-year math classes. We offer help through chat rooms, discussion boards and audio / video virtual classroom formats. I have always loved helping people learn about math, so this job has been a great experience for me. 

What should students use resources like the Math Learning Centre for? 

Students should access resources like the math learning centre any time they feel lost, stuck or even just to discuss a topic they’ve learned. I believe that a lot of students, when they first get to university, have the mindset that they are being annoying or inconveniencing people when they ask questions, but it is really the exact opposite of that: Math is all about exploration and asking questions We absolutely love helping the students that come in! 

What role has your community at the University played in your academic and professional success so far?  

The community at the University is one of the friendliest I have ever encountered. I have made many friends while here. The professors have all been so nice to talk to, I never feel worried about “asking a dumb question”. Being on the curriculum committee has been a great experience in seeing how decisions are made and it's been truly awesome to be someone who gets to be a voice for the students. In my first year, after I lost my father, the faculty in the math and stats department were some of the nicest and most understanding people when I needed to miss some assessments. 

You have also been employed with Oxford Learning, an external tutoring company, as a Math Teacher for just over two years now – how has this experience been for you and how does it tie into your goals for yourself?  

Working at an Oxford Learning Centre has been amazing. I love helping people gain a better understanding of mathematics and it is so fulfilling to see younger students become inspired to learn more about mathematics after I have worked with them. My goals are to learn as much as I can about math and find a position that will allow me to utilize the skills The University of Guelph has taught me. 

What’s next for you?  

I am in the process of applying for a master's degree in mathematical science (my friends make fun of me when I refer to this as a mathsters) at a few schools, including U of Guelph, so you might still see me here next year! 

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