Dr. Michael G. Monticino
Without mathematics my life would be considerably less interesting. I have worked on problems ranging from evaluating anti-submarine warfare tactics to forecasting cash inventory needs for a major check cashing company. I spent a summer in South Korea analyzing techniques for detecting North Korean invasion tunnels and another summer working for IBM developing statistical techniques for determining preferences of Internet website visitors.
Entering college, I was fascinated by virtually every subject. I ended up a mathematics major because of a fifteen minute conversation. The chair of the mathematics department at the University of Florida, whose abstract algebra class I was taking, struck up a conversation with me one day after class about my career aspirations. His few minutes of guidance and encouragement literally changed my life.
I received my Ph.D. in mathematics from the University of Miami in 1987. I had every intention of pursuing the standard academic career path. However, I was introduced to the captivating world of applying mathematics to help solve real-world problems during a job interview at an AMS-MAA Joint Mathematics Meeting. As a result of that interview, I accepted a position as an Associate for Daniel H. Wagner Associates, a mathematical consulting company. At Wagner, I worked on problems in anti-submarine warfare, acoustic modeling and optimal ship routing using mathematical techniques from optimal control, stochastic processes, game theory, search theory, and probability. I also traveled to South Korea as part of a project with the U.S. Army to improve methods for locating invasion and infiltration tunnels that North Korea has constructed under the Korean DMZ into South Korea. My role was to propose more accurate analytical methods for evaluating search strategies. The work involved collaboration with U.S. Army personnel, geologists, electronic sensor experts and South Korean military officers. Working with a diverse team of professionals is typical in applied mathematics. And in this case, I got to relearn some geology--one of the other subjects I was interested in back in college.
I am now an associate professor at the University of North Texas. I am very fortunate to have the opportunity to have a foot in both the academic and the business worlds. I have worked as a consultant for several companies, including IBM, Andersen Consulting, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, America's Cash Express, and the Dallas-Fort Worth Airport. My academic and consulting activities complement one another. The mental discipline, as well as the technical tools, required for research greatly enhance my ability to solve hard problems for clients quickly and within budget. My consulting activities enrich my teaching and often inspire research questions. Moreover, strong communication skills are essential for both effective teaching and consulting. All in all, my mathematical training has allowed me to work on important, challenging problems and continues to enrich my life.