Detecting the Undetectable
Nov 15, 2010Metal detectors may help you find a lost coin or necklace, but objects buried in the desert can be nearly impossible to find.
This is a problem that Zackary Kenz ’08 has been trying to solve with applied mathematics. He uses differential equations to show how wave propagation changes when different soils are struck by another object. His work could save a life in places like Afghanistan and Pakistan where improvised explosive devices (IEDs) are covered by sand.
“We’re using math to solve real-world problems,” Kenz says.
Kenz studies applied mathematics at North Carolina State University. He first became interested in math as a junior high student. In high school, he participated in math-related extracurricular activities and worked for a surveyor during the summer. It was then he realized how math applied to real-life situations.
At Concordia, Kenz researched alongside Dr. Doug Anderson and completed summer internships in California and near Washington, D.C. These experiences helped him to secure his graduate school admission.
He enjoys this project because of the collaborative nature. His teammates include other NCSU students, an engineering team in California and an Air Force doctor.
“We find a way to see the process, figure out what phenomena are going on and describe it,” Kenz says.
Kenz will continue to solve real-life problems with math after graduate school. He hopes to do research at a large institution or to go on to work in a government laboratory like the National Institute of Health or NASA.