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New UGA course explores the career possibilities for math majors

Katie Cowart

A new course at the University of Georgia is helping math students explore the wide variety of careers open to graduates in their field.

During the course, students work on real-world, industry projects such as helping the Food Bank of Northeast Georgia determine whether food needs are being met and if there are areas of scarcity in the communities they serve. Other recent projects include developing an app to help visualize and contextualize game data for UGA’s women’s golf team, and streamlining the data collection process for the investing firm Rubicon Crypto.

Jennifer Royal, senior lecturer in UGA’s math department, teaches students how to think critically and address these real-world problems through her inaugural Preparation for Industrial Careers (PIC) in Mathematical Sciences course.

PIC Math is a national program sponsored by the Mathematical Association of America, the National Science Foundation and the National Security Agency. It prepares mathematical sciences students for careers by engaging them in research problems that come directly from industry. The PIC Math program aims to increase awareness among mathematical sciences faculty and undergraduates about non-academic career options, provide research experiences for their students to work on real problems, and prepare students for careers outside of academia.

“I’ve been advising students for a long time, and some are easy to advise. I know what to tell them if they want to go into academia or teaching,” said Royal. “For those that don’t want to do either of those, this class helps show them what is out there and gives them a clear path on how to accomplish their goals.”

A strong component of PIC Math involves students working as a group on a semester-long undergraduate research problem from business, industry or government.

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Image: Jennifer Royal talks with her students as she teaches in her Calculus I class. (Photo by Andrew Davis Tucker/UGA)

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