Mathematics Alumni in Other Careers Using Math

David Robbins '16

I am currently working as a test engineer for LORD Microstrain in Williston, VT.  I am a member of the inertial measurement team, where I develop software for data processing, as well as design test equipment and protocols for navigation systems.  The position requires extensive programming knowledge across multiple languages, such as Python and LabView, a good understanding of rigid body dynamics, as well as a background in drafting and machine design. 

I completed the SMC-UVM Engineering Program with a major in Mechanical Engineering and a minor in Math. When I arrived at St. Michael's, I had no idea what direction my career path would take me.  My first year calculus class sparked my interest in mathematics, and inspired me to choose engineering as my career.  It still amazes me how much of the basic mathematics that I learned at St. Michael's I use everyday at my job.

David Bouthillier '15

I am currently employed as a Mechanical Design Engineer for a company called Hypertherm, located in the Hanover & Lebanon NH area.  Here I design and test plasma cutting torches and consumables for use in the heavy equipment industry.  These companies include many shipyards, rail cars manufacturers, and automotive plants, just to name a few.  I started with this company at the beginning of 1999 and have been in my current position since 2001.  The position requires a combination of both spatial analysis and statistical data analysis which are necessary to develop the engineering drawings for each part in the systems.  While here, I have been fortunate enough to have worked on projects that led to being named a co-inventor on three U.S. issued patents and have just recently filed another.

My journey at St. Michael’s was much different than the one most students take.  I actually entered SMC in the Fall of 1987 as a Pre-Engineering major, but did not complete my degree while there at that time.  However, the strong science and mathematics course load that was required while I was there afforded me the opportunity to start working for my present company.  After many years here, I was presented with the chance to return to St. Mike’s to finish my degree.  Upon returning, I decided to change to Mathematics for two reasons.  First, a significant amount of my job responsibilities revolves around numerical analysis and number calculation.  Second, this would allow me to finish at SMC, while the Engineering track requires a transfer of schools to complete.

My experience upon returning was better than I had expected, and I am thankful to the professors for their time, willingness, and assistance.  Upon graduation, I was asked how much of what I learned could be applied to my job.  My answer is this: although some of the material in and of itself may or may not always be applicable to some jobs, the critical thinking and problem solving skills learned while on the mathematics track are invaluable.

Pat Knapp '13

I am the owner and co-farmer of Back Paddock Farm—a 100% grass-fed beef farm in the Hudson Valley, and I work as a butcher at Marbled Meat Shop in Cold Spring, NY. As a farmer, I aim to produce consistently high quality beef through management practices that build soil, sequester carbon, and create a diversity of healthy life in my ecosystem. As a butcher, I get to connect with the consumer to tell that story and celebrate our successes through good, healthy food.

At SMC I studied Mathematics and Environmental Studies. My liberal arts studies helped to form my passions and pushed me to serve my community and land. My Math and Science education at SMC gave me the tools to design and evaluate strategies to do it.

Susan Molzon '12

I am working as a Senior Engineer for the County of Monmouth, NJ.  I am involved with the project management of new building construction projects for County-owned facilities as well as the design of roadway and intersection improvement projects.  I have completed a Master’s in Business Administration from Monmouth University.  

My education at SMC which combined engineering and liberal arts studies through the SMC-UVM 3+2 Program in Civil Engineering helped me to become a more well-rounded professional with skills beyond the technical engineering curriculum.  My interest in pursuing a master’s level business degree was first sparked by the economics and statistics courses taken at SMC.  

Andrew Gilbert '11

I am a law student at the Georgetown University Law Center in Washington D.C. I will be clerking at the U.S. Tax Court for the next two years and finishing my LL.M. in Taxation at night at Georgetown over the next few semesters.  

The U.S. Tax Court is a federal trial court established under Article I of the U.S. Constitution to handle disputes between taxpayers and the Internal Revenue Service. I'll be doing legal research and helping to draft opinions following trial.

My St. Michael’s mathematics education was an excellent way to prepare for law school (and I’m sure it will continue to serve me well). Here are some of the ways it has helped me:

First, training in mathematics requires development of a superb attention to detail and an understanding of logical analysis, both of which are necessary in any legal career. Certain aspects of legal education encourage these skills, but I think you are far better off if you’ve been developing them for several years before you begin. You just don’t have much time to start learning about conditionals and argument structure while you are trying to vacuum up and organize vast amounts of information about personal jurisdiction or choice of law, for example.

Second, the St. Michael’s mathematics education helped me develop a variety of skills useful in the organization and presentation of data, including some rudimentary programming skills and a certain facility with LaTeX. It also allowed me to practice discussing complex topics with teachers and classmates (thanks to small class sizes and accessible faculty). I’ve found that this introduction has helped me figure out effective ways to present information in other contexts. For example, a little while ago I was working as a research assistant for a professor who wanted to self-publish a multi-layered index for a scholarly database she’d been developing. Microsoft Word couldn’t handle the complexity of the task, but with the help of a colleague who wrote some code to convert the database into TeX, we were able to produce exactly what my professor had been hoping for. The ability to find such solutions is a very valuable one for any lawyer because everything a lawyer does must eventually be presented and explained to someone else.

Finally, whether you decide to major in mathematics or take just a few courses, you will leave St. Mike’s having struggled through material as tough as anything you’ll see anywhere else. If you can hang in there with multi-variable calculus or the fundamental theorem of algebra, you can manage anything law school or anything else will throw at you, and it’s nice to know that.

Alex Centofranchi '10

I graduated from Saint Michael’s College and the University of Vermont through the 3+2 engineering program. I work as a Civil Engineer for EIV Technical Services based out of Williston, VT. Once I have the necessary experience I am considering taking the exam to become a professional engineer (PE). Currently, I work on Vermont State Highway Construction projects. My daily duties include surveying, reviewing submitted plans and inspecting all physical work that is performed. I am responsible for tracking (often by calculation) installed quantities of materials and managing the projects’ budgets.

I use mathematics every day and having a strong foundation in math allows me to work more efficiently. The courses I took at Saint Michael’s were comprehensive and developed analytical and creative skills that I consider invaluable. Construction is fast-paced and unpredictable; being able to quickly solve problems, often without technological aids, is a necessity. Additionally, I frequently have to write memos, letters and amendments to contract documents. Engineers and mathematicians are stereotyped as being poor writers. I have been able to avoid this stereotype, no doubt, in part because of Saint Michael’s liberal arts curriculum.

Beyond the technical skills I learned at Saint Michael’s I was impressed by and benefited from the college’s community and culture. Professors know your name and care about your well-being as well as your academic success. It’s notable that volunteering is such commonplace. Saint Michael’s fosters intellectual and personal growth. A Saint Michael’s education will not only serve you well in any interview or job that you have, it will serve you well in all facets of your life.

Phil Pause '10

I graduated Saint Michael’s College through the 3 +2 engineering program with the University of Vermont and attended graduate school after that.  I am currently working for a company called StingRay Optics out of Keene, NH where I am part of the engineering team that designs and tests infrared optical assemblies that are used in a variety of military and science applications.

Going through the engineering program at Saint Michael’s college provides students with three key skills: one is an advanced understanding in mathematical concepts, another is an ability to problem solve, and the final is an ability to write analytically.  At StingRay Optics I use these skills everyday to analyze test data we get from testing the optical assemblies, problem solve ways to improve the assembly so we get better test results, and finally communicate the data to coworkers and customers.  Saint Michael’s gave me these tools so I can be a strong contributor to the StingRay Optics team and generate the results needed to make the company successful.

What makes going through the engineering program at Saint Michael’s unique is that students are required to take classes that require them to think analytically in other areas besides math and science.  This different way of thinking allows me to bring forth unique ideas at StingRay when the engineering team is trying to solve problems that arise during the design or testing process.  This is necessary so that we as a company can continue pushing the boundaries of what is possible in the optics industry.

Paul Jarvis '09

paul jarvis

I recently graduated from UVM's College of Medicine in May 2014. Having earned my M.D., I am currently employed in UVM/Fletcher Allen's Neurological Sciences Department as a post-doctoral associate. My job entails continuing clinical research I started in medical school with one of the neurologists at Fletcher Allen; we are examining if a change in patients' EEG's (a lab test run when someone is suspected of having seizures) immediately following administration of an anti-seizure medication can predict if that specific medication will prevent further seizures in that patient. Additionally, I will also be working on some bench research in the neuroscience labs at UVM, as well as helping with all aspects of any clinical drug trials that get started in the neurophysiology center at Fletcher Allen over the next year, and, on a clinical side, aiding my main research mentor in his epilepsy clinic. I will be applying to neurology residency programs during the upcoming 2014-2015 application cycle.

While my mathematics education has not directly prepared/benefited me regarding my current position in my career, considering its high focus on biology and physiology, it has helped me with further understanding all of the mathematical/physical models of human physiology so that I can work through any numbers provided in lab tests or direct modeling such as of blood flow, etc. It has also helped me better understand the statistics and mathematical models used in the majority of research articles that we use when finding the new data about best treatments for the patients, so I feel that I can better understand the validity of the data presented in those articles better than some of my peers. Additionally, it will prepare me to better be able to work through such statistics in any of my own future research projects, including the one I am working on. Having the background in both biology and mathematics and SMC also causes a higher peak of interest when I see new developments in numerical models of different aspects of medicine, allowing me to focus on what the models are actually representing, rather than getting caught up in the "mess of numbers" as some of my former classmates put it.

Laura Beaudin '07

laura beaudin

My current title is Assistant Professor of Economics at Bryant University. At Bryant I am teaching such courses ranging from Principles of Macroeconomics, Principles of Microeconomics, Intermediate Microeconomics, Research Methods in Economics, and Senior Capstone Advisor. In 2014 I published my first economics research paper in Ecological Economics, titled: "Weather conditions and outdoor recreation: A study of New England ski areas." One of my current working papers won the "Best Paper Award" at a business and social sciences conference in Paris over the summer. Other than that, I serve on numerous committees at Bryant and am the co-advisor to BESA - Bryant Economic Student Association. I earned my Master’s and PhD in Economics at the University of New Hampshire in 2013. The economics program at UNH relies heavily on mathematical theory. Saint Michael's provided me with the strong foundation I needed to help me excel in this program.

Of course Saint Michael's prepared me very well. The challenging courses gave me a taste for what the course load would be like in graduate school; however, the supportive and encouraging faculty gave me the tools I needed to succeed at a high level. I am grateful for my time at Saint Michael's because I was able to work very closely with many of the faculty members on research and projects and what I learned most in their classrooms was that I wanted to do exactly what they do, and become a college professor at a small liberal arts college. Being a professor is about more than just going to class, lecturing, and doing your own research. It is about being a source of knowledge and support for students who are discovering who they are and that they want to do while at the same time ever continuing your own learning journey. I can't think of a better career.

Kathryn Ennist '06

I am the Teen and Reference Librarian at the Hillsdale Public Library in Hillsdale, NJ. This is a fairly new position for me, although I have worked at the library part-time since I was fourteen. My responsibilities include collection management and development for both the teen and reference areas of the library. I am also in charge of teen program development and handle all reference questions.  This position requires a Masters in Information and Library Science, so I am currently attending San Jose State University via online coursework. 

Prior to this career change I worked for almost a decade at UBS Financial Services in Weehawken, NJ. During my time at UBS I was part of several different departments. In my roles at UBS I processed large scale corrections for mutual fund trades, handled account opening and maintenance for different managed programs, and determined fees for our large institutional clients. During my tenure at UBS, I was able to take advantage of their tuition assistance program and obtain my Masters in Applied Mathematics from Stevens Institute of Technology.

My Saint Michael's education has been invaluable over the years. At UBS, my ability to think critically and approach problems with logic helped me establish myself within my field as someone who found solutions to the more challenging situations we came across. Now that I am working as a professional librarian, the same still holds true. My background in mathematics as well as in the financial world provide me with a unique set of skills that help me approach my current responsivities in a way that other librarians might not think of. I have found that this has been extremely helpful both in my daily work and also while attending classes for my MLIS.  

Scott Hamshaw '06

I am a graduate Research Assistant at the University of Vermont and a Ph.D. Candidate in the Civil & Environmental Engineering program. I study the application of advanced computational methods to solve environmental problems. My work is supported in part by a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship and Switzer Environmental Fellowship. My research interests stem from a desire to respond to the challenges of water quality, flooding, and watershed erosion that became so evident from Tropical Storm Irene’s impact in Vermont. The storm impacted Vermont on the exact day I started my graduate program at the University of Vermont and continues to focus my effort on applied research related to natural hazards, erosion, and water quality. To date, my research has involved studying the vulnerability to mobile home park communities in Vermont to natural hazards; use of terrestrial laser scanners and unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) to measure and monitor stream bank erosion; and the use of artificial neural networks to characterize and predict suspended sediment movement in our river systems.

I completed the SMC-UVM Engineering Program with a major in Environmental Engineering and a minor in Math. Prior to enrolling in the graduate program at UVM, I worked as an engineer in a civil engineering consulting firm in Winooski and am a licensed civil engineer in the State of Vermont. While there, I worked on a variety of projects including stormwater design, erosion prevention, water distribution systems, and site development. With a desire to learn more about the science behind the different engineering areas I was working in, I left the firm and applied to the graduate program at UVM in order to obtain a M.S. in Civil & Environmental Engineering. After obtaining my M.S. degree, I felt there was still more I was interested in learning in graduate school, so I have continued on into the Ph.D. program.

When returning to graduate school in engineering I did not anticipate the amount of time I would spend devoted to learning statistical methods and how much I would enjoy it. It really is the core of my research now, and having a solid foundation in mathematics from my mathematics minor at SMC has allowed me to succeed in this research area. I also believe that my other classes I took at SMC that covered a broad subject area, especially my courses in geography, have helped me have a successful career as an engineer and research that can work with a diverse group of stakeholders and across disciplines.

Jessica Scheld '05

jessica sheld

I earned my Ph.D. from Rutgers in Economics in October 2016. My dissertation focused on the effect of postsecondary educational decisions on attainment and labor market outcomes. I'm also interested in school choice and K-12 education policy.

I began my tenure track position this fall at Lynchburg College - teaching introduction to microeconomics and research methods in economics. 

I am pleased to be a professor in a small liberal arts school (like St. Mike's), where teaching undergraduates is a main focus. SMC prepared me for graduate work in both my mathematics and economics courses through passionate professors. My professors in both disciplines showed me how exciting math and economics can be in the classroom and exposed me to opportunities (i.e. REU at WPI, internships, research projects with Prof. Ellis-Monaghan) that gave me my first experiences in research. I attribute my passion for research to attending a school that allowed me to grow as both a student and person.

Lisa Wotkowicz '02

lisa wotkowicz

Currently I am employed as a Paralegal at a small law firm. I work on everything from real estate closings to research and brief writing for civil rights litigation. I am enrolled in the evening division of the New England School of Law and have just completed my first year of classes.

My mathematics education has helped me in an uncharacteristic way. Although I don't work with numbers or proofs, I have found that the methods for compiling and analyzing data that I learned at Saint Michael's have helped me every day at work and at school. I use these skills when reading and outlining cases for class and also when organizing and developing conclusions for writing legal briefs. I have found that knowing how to read and efficiently process large amounts of data, regardless of the subject matter, is an invaluable tool.

Adrienne Riel '00

adrienne riel

I work with Greenleaf Forestry and Wood Products in Colorado and am subsequently pursuing graduate studies in forestry, more specifically in silviculture, the applied ecology and management of forests and woodlands. A background in mathematics has become valuable to this field, and I have been strongly encouraged by professors of forestry to apply to their graduate programs, even without the prior coursework in the natural sciences typically required. The data management and analysis skills I developed in math and computer science courses at Saint Michael's will be useful in this field as they have been in many other ways.

I completed the process of earning a Vermont teaching license through the Teacher Apprenticeship Program based in Essex Junction. Middle- and secondary-level math teachers are in high demand here and everywhere, and my education in higher math has enabled me to keep open the door of this possibility and be a strong candidate for positions. I have found this has only been accentuated by Saint Michael's reputation as an institution of rigorous academics and high ethics. In my student teaching at Middlebury Union Middle School, I assisted in coaching our MathCounts team to the state and national rounds of competition. My knowledge of high-level math and problem-solving strategies served me in working with these students as they tackled very challenging problems in all branches of mathematics.

Most important to me, though, are the understandings of mathematical truths and the reasoning skills I acquired and developed. They have universal applications and have impacted me personally as well as professionally. I'm very grateful for the quality of the education I received in the math department at Saint Michael's.

Wendy Shepard Mahaffrey '99

Saint Michael's mathematics program was the initial building block for my chiropractic career and small business ownership. It provided strategies for learning, thinking and higher-level decision making that I can't imagine I would have been able to attain without the degree.

The program has made a global impact on how I approach healing people. Many may not connect the two, but I use math in my daily treatment with my patients. Whether it's taking measurements to calculate loss of spinal curvatures or simply calculating the Q-angle to determine how I can help with a patient's knee issue, it comes into play daily.  

I'm grateful for the high standards that Saint Michael's offered in my time there and how they continue to set the bar. The professors are who brought the numbers to life--thank you!

Rob Troy '97

rob troy

I recently got out of the Active Duty Air Force and joined the Air Force Reserves, where I am an F-16 Pilot. When I'm not serving in the Air Force, I fly for Continental Airlines.

My math education, I think, was one of the main reasons I was selected for Pilot Training. In a competitive field of applicants, someone with an analytic background has a leg up in a very technical field.

Michele Johnson '95, Lt. Colonel

michele johnson

 Currently, I am serving as a Lieutenant Colonel in the United States Air Force. My husband Dan (also Class of 1995), and I, along with our three boys, live in Montgomery, Alabama, where I am stationed at Maxwell Air Force Base. Currently, I fulfill the role of Professor of Strategy and Strategic Studies at Air University’s School of Advanced Air & Space Studies, the U.S. Air Force graduate school for strategists.

Over the past 21 years, the Air Force has given my family and me the opportunity to live in several different areas of the U.S., to include California, Ohio, Illinois, Colorado, Texas, and Alabama (in that order). Since graduating from SMC, I have earned a MS in Information Resource Management from the Air Force Institute of Technology in Ohio, and a MA in Counseling & Leadership from the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs. Most recently, I earned my PhD is Educational Leadership, Research and Policy from the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs. My research interests include leadership development, character development, coaching, and mentoring.

The math program at SMC prepared me well for each of my graduate programs, as well as enhanced my analytical skills. My current position involves conducting both quantitative and qualitative educational research and allows me to pull from my mathematics and liberal arts foundation. Furthermore, the ability to solve problems and approach challenges from a strategic level has been invaluable throughout my military career.

Sister Lorraine Aucoin '91, pm

sister lorraine aucion I certainly loved my time at Saint Michael's as a math major and wouldn't change it for anything. Currently I am the Vocation Director for my religious community, Sisters of the Presentation of Mary. Prior to this role I taught math for six years at the junior high level. Our Sisters do have an elementary school in Hudson, NH; we also own and operate Rivier College in Nashua, NH. After St. Mike's I attended Boston College (not right away, but from 2003-2005) where I obtained my Master's Degree in Theology with a concentration in Ethics. I am now serving my second year as a member of the Board of Trustees for Saint Mike's and I am so happy to be giving back to the school that gave me so much!

Lisa Martin Eriksson '90, OD

I am an Optometrist at New England Vision Correction in South Burlington VT. I went to the New England College of Optometry in Boston, MA.

The Saint Michael's mathematics program was excellent preparation for my graduate program in optometry, as were my pre med classes. The mathematics provided a base for the optical portion of my profession.

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