IIT math professor gives seminar on careers in math


Professor Fred Hickernell, an applied mathematics professor at Illinois Institute of Technology, came to a ‘Lunch and Learn’ seminar at Central to talk to students about math-related careers, especially those in research positions at universities. This was organized by the teachers in the math department and was directed to students considering careers that will involve math.

According to Hickernell, being a math professor is half teaching, half research. Hickernell specializes in researching Monte Carlo and quasi-Monte Carlo methods, which are mathematical methods used to determine the best time to buy, sell, and trade stock.

John Kim, a senior, attended this seminar and found the presentation interesting. “I originally came to learn about careers in math, but what I found really intriguing was Prof. Hickernell’s description of the research done as a professor of applied mathematics,” Kim said.“Even though I don’t plan on going into a ‘pure-math’ career, learning about mathematical research was still an educational way of spending my lunch.”

All of the students’ reactions of the seminar so far have been just as positive as Kim’s, said Central Math teacher Matthew Doll. “The seminar was directed more to the students in higher-level math classes, but everyone who went seems to have found it interesting,” said Doll. Doll also thinks this seminar will help to disprove the common myth that higher-level math is useless outside of high school. “Prof. Hickernell spoke a lot about applied mathematics, so I really think the students got an idea of how math is used in the real world.”

For the people that missed this ‘Lunch and Learn’ seminar, there is still a chance to catch another at a later date. Doll said, “We, in the math department, are planning on having more of these in the future with other people in math-related professions, like an actuary or an engineer.” Kim believes that he would probably go to another ‘Lunch and Learn’ if there was one. Kim said, “Not only do they have free pizza, they are also really informational.”