A Universal Language
Oscar Ramirez, an employee at the Whole Nine Yards Construction & Landscaping Company, has just been awarded his first major contract. Ramirez has been assigned to manage the remodel of Mayor Lawrence's family estate, which includes the design and remodeling of the family home as well as the landscaping of the surrounding land. As project manager, Ramirez is in charge of hiring and managing a team of contractors; one member of his team is his nephew, Martin Fuentes, who is in need of both summer work and a mentor. Ramirez spends his first day with Fuentes exposing him to the beauty of mathematics. Fuentes, who once saw mathematics as nothing but rote memorization and a series of nonsensical procedures, begins to see mathematics as a language that can be used to describe relationships that exist in the world around us. As Fuentes develops an appreciation and excitement for mathematics that mirrors Ramirez's love of the subject, Ramirez decides to share with his nephew a new machine that he has been designing and engineering. This case is designed to be taught in a math literacy course for non-MBA audiences. Although it can be used alone, it was created as the first in a module of five cases total. Each subsequent case builds on the material in this one. For the next case in the series, please see Safiya Sinclair, Kimberly Corum, and Gregory B. Fairchild, "It's All in the Signs" (UVA-G-0653).