“Study math and see the world” says Martha Weeks, a computer marketing consultant. “Mathematics … can open a multitude of … doors” agrees Robert Stewart, NASA astronaut. These are just two items of interest that will appeal to everyone, regardless of age, in this informative collection of snapshots of the lives of people who use mathematics in their careers. The people portrayed here are not just the usual run of the mill Math crew consisting of teachers and researchers. They include actuaries, engineers, managers, consultants, and even an astronaut.
Each contributor writes about his or her career, and the essays are arranged in alphabetical order. (There are no indices, which is a pity: it would have been very useful to be able to locate essays by field, by educational level, by the level of the mathematics involved, and so on.) Among my favorite essays were ones written by Joe Corrigan of Project Mathematics and Yaromyr Zinkewych, who is a troubleshooter for the Hubble Space Telescope. Project Mathematics sounds like a wonderful project that will help enrich the mathematical lives of high school students. From what I know of the Hubble Telescope, Yaromyr must be really busy! These two essays struck me because of the range in between them, as well as their similarity. Both men hold a BA in Mathematics, but from there, their lives are totally different. Here mathematics shows us some of the variety hidden within.
The essays selected represent a wide range of experiences, ages, and educational levels. Shane Chalke, an actuary, holds a BS in Mathematics, while J. Wanzer Drane has a PhD in Biometry. There are also life stories of people who studied Math at college, and not later, and vice versa. There are MBA holders in the group along with BAs, MDs, PhDs, and so on.
In the Appendix, there are several sections of interest to the college graduate, including “Seven Steps to Finding a Job” and “So You Want to Work in Industry”. Everyone will find these notes truly helpful, from the college freshman exploring his options to the college senior and the person already in a job environment.
All in all, this is a handy book that contains a wealth of information and experiences, from the actuary and agricultural economist to the research scientist and the sculptor.
Yawa Dusé-Anthony just graduated from Colby College with a B.A. in Mathematics, and will be attending the graduate program in Operations Research at the University of Massachusetts beginning in September, 1997.