BA Mathematics and Computer Science
R&D Projecy Manager
I graduated from Potsdam College in May 1989 with both undergraduate and graduate degrees. I immediately began working for Hewlett-Packard as a software development engineer.
Working in software development, it was easy to see how my education in computer science would apply to my daily work. What wasn't quite so obvious was how my mathematics background would contribute. Within my first six months, it became apparent that what I learned in the realm of mathematics might even be more important than what I learned in computer science.
My first major project was to assist in the extension of a basic information retrieval system. Much of this work involved investigation of current research on advanced information retrieval techniques. This meant that I would read a series of articles submitted to technical journals and combine concepts from various articles into our own information retrieval system. I found my mathematics training very useful in understanding the technical details of many of the articles. Also, many articles contained algorithms which were often incomplete or inaccurate; having the mathematical knowledge to notice these inaccuracies proved invaluable.
But what I found most useful about my mathematics training was not simply the facts I learned. Rather, it was that it taught me how to learn. I was able, with little or no supervision, to pick up a journal, or a textbook, or a manual, and get the information I needed to be productive. In fact, this skill is especially useful in the business world where there is really no equivalent to the "teacher" who seems to invariably know all of the answers.
I am still working at Hewlett-Packard, but now as an R&D Project Manager. Instead of actually developing software solutions, I now manage a group of cross-functional engineers who do that job. Again, I have found my educational background an invaluable asset in preparing me for technical management. My computer science education and experience has given me a strong technical foundation while my mathematics background has provided an analytical framework in which to make informed, thoughtful decisions.