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Choose Math, Choose a Career

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Taking math seriously, and learning to enjoy it, will probably make your life easier in high school. It will almost certainly help you get into college and increase your odds of succeeding once you get there.

But what kinds of career options are out there for students with talent in math and a love for that subject?

I recently came across a good online resource that seeks to answer that question for students. It's the "Career Profiles" page, offered on the Web site of the Mathematical Association of America.

As the name suggests, the site aims to answer the question "why study math," by telling the stories of people in a range of careers—business, government, and academic research. The site offers the first-person accounts of workers on how math led them into their careers, and how they use it on the job.

There's the story of Capt. C.J. Haynes, a program manager who works on air traffic control systems and combat identification systems for the U.S. Navy. She also oversees a $3 billion budget, the profile explains. There's Mitchell Stabbe, a former math major in college who describes how he uses mathematical reasoning in his job as lawyer specializing in trademark law.There's former math major James L. Cooley, who's designing spacecraft for NASA.

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The site is a part of the Mathematical Sciences Career Information Project. It's one of a number of useful resources I've seen in this area recently.

Another interesting one, which gives examples of how math is used from high-tech jobs to the factory floor, was published recently by Achieve. See my entry about the work in this area, "Making the Case for Advanced Math."

(Photo courtesy of the MAA.)


1 Comment

I always really enjoyed math, particularly the more abstract higher math subjects like number theory and calculus. But for kids who do not resonate with math, like my son and my daughter, trying to get them to like math was like trying to get them to like beating their heads against a wall.

We have a school system that shoves math down every kid's throat. Some like the taste, others are gagging. If math should be available to every kid that is interested, why does it have to be forced on every kid that is not? The only reason is that our education system is so hierarchical and bureaucratic that path of least resistance is to force every kid to learn the same thing at the same time... which somehow feels efficient but is the most inefficient, inhuman way to try to get 52 million unique youthful souls find their unique niche in adult society.

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