I’m the cofounder of a software company (Coursetune) in the ed-tech sector. I am the CEO, but spend a lot of my time working on product development. On the side, I teach a math course for a local college and do some speaking at conferences and colleges.
- How do you use math or mathematical problem solving in your work? How does your math background help you in your job?
Developing software can seem deceptively easy. However, I’ve seen cases where something that sounds simple like “just adding a button” can take up to a year and hundreds of tickets of planning. Again, studying math has been a valuable precursor to developing software – learning how to find and deal with the “edge cases” in math (like division by zero) make it easy to keep an eye out for the edge cases and bugs in software as well.
- What motivated you to study math?
I always found math to be a nice complement to other things I was studying. Questions in math have definitive answers. Problems can be solved with mathematical models. Math was a good complement to the other majors I had in school – Biology and Chemistry. My skills in other subjects were strengthened by a strong math background.
- What would you say to a student who is thinking about studying math but doesn’t want a typical teaching career.
Studying math helped me to develop a very good sense of logic, which has helped tremendously in the software industry, whether it be writing specs for features, listening carefully to customers in focus groups, or doing QA for tickets. The logic skills you develop in learning mathematics can help in a variety of careers. The future that will be increasingly centered around the use of technology, and technology runs on logic. I can’t see how a study of math would do anything other than help your career.
- Other advice or comments?
Because job requirements are now changing so fast, education is going to be an ongoing endeavor. We can’t all go back to college for a couple years every time there is a shift in a job. Technology-enabled learning will provide flexible options for updating skills on an ongoing basis. It’s important to get a solid and well-rounded educational base – you need to learn how to learn, you need to get a good grounding in logic skills, communication, information literacy, collaboration, and creative thinking. After your base education, don’t stop learning. Use technological solutions to make sure you stay up-to-date in your field and continue to stretch to learn new things. This will be vital to staying relevant in an economy that is increasingly technology driven.