It¿s a common misconception that math majors are destined for education-related jobs. People are often surprised that Google and the National Security Agency recruit and hire many mathematics graduates.
¿There¿s a lot to mathematics that you probably didn¿t know,¿ says John Rock, assistant professor in the mathematics and statistics department. ¿A lot of people don¿t know exactly how many positions you can get with a math degree. They assume that they teach math in high school or college, but that¿s just a fraction.¿
For example, Google and the NSA need people to encrypt, decrypt and organize large amounts of information in a cohesive and meaningful way. And that¿s something a math major can do.
Representatives from Google and the NSA, as well as other industries, will discuss career opportunities for math majors at a career panel on Saturday, March 10 in the Bronco Student Center. The panel talk is part of the Pacific Coast Undergraduate Math Conference, a one-day event that welcomes math majors as well as non-majors who use math in their studies, whether it¿s in economics, engineering, biology, chemistry, physics or computer science.
Specifically designed for undergraduates, the conference features presentations on student research, projects or simply an interesting problem. Breakout sessions will cover a variety of math topics, as well as graduate school and diversity.
Keynote speaker Ron Eglash, professor of science and technology studies at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York, will speak on ¿Calculating Culture: African Fractals, Malaysian Buckyballs and other Adventures in Ethnomathematics.¿ An ethno-mathematician, Eglash has researched how sophisticated geometric algorithms and concepts appear in traditional African societies.
The career panel, scheduled at 9 a.m., is usually one of the most popular aspects of the conference, which draws about 350 undergrads from mostly Southern California. Students will have the opportunity to ask questions and hear from professionals who use mathematics in their career. Just don¿t expect a straight answer about what exactly mathematicians do for the NSA.
¿The funny thing is that you don¿t really know what they¿re doing,¿ Rock says. ¿You can imagine what they do, but they probably wouldn¿t be able to tell you.¿
The Pacific Coast Undergraduate Math Conference is free to attend. Students who register by March 2 will receive a free lunch. For more information and to register, visit www.pcumc-math.org.