Mathematics Alumni in Other Careers Using Math

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.

Andrew Gilbert '11

I am a law student at the Georgetown University Law Center in Washington D.C. I’m currently working toward a commission in the U.S. Navy J.A.G. Corps.

The J.A.G. Corps is composed of uniformed lawyers and paralegals working to provide legal support to the Navy in a variety of areas including criminal, administrative, and operational law.  I don’t know yet what sorts of projects I will end up working on, but I’m hoping to see many different types of legal practice over the next few years. 

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.

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.

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.

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 (Class of 1995), and I, along with our three boys, are living in San Antonio, Texas, where I am assigned as a Squadron Commander at Basic Military Training. In this position, I am responsible for training over 5,000 new Airmen for our Air Force annually.

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.

The math program at SMC prepared me well for my graduate programs, as well as enhanced my analytical skills. While my current position does not include mathematics on a daily basis, 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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