Which careers actively require mathematics?

  • #1
Hi everyone,

I am a third-year electrical & computer engineering student trying to find out what career is best suited to my interests. In the first two years of my degree, the courses I enjoyed the most were programming, linear algebra, calculus, differential equations, complex calculus, and signals & systems. A lot of things just clicked in these classes, and they were a lot of fun. I would love to do that kind of stuff all day.

Which careers involve actively using all of that cool math? I would prefer not to have to attend graduate school.

Note that as an engineering student, I took what would be considered applied math versions of these courses (i.e. few proofs, mostly concerned with modelling electrical/computer engineering phenomena).
 

Answers and Replies

  • #2
Simon Bridge
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Off the degree you are headed for - probably cybernetics research.
You will need to go to grad school to meet your desires though.
 
  • #3
SteamKing
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Many engineering and science careers will use one or more of the math topics you listed at some point, but it's difficult to pinpoint one field which will use all of these math topics all of the time.

Engineering undergrads are exposed to a math-heavy curriculum not so much because they will be doing math-intensive work all of the time in their careers, but to give them the tools to understand other technical subjects which they will be taking to obtain the degree.

A lot of engineering practice involves adapting what has been done before to a slightly newer situation. You have to make sure a structure is strong enough to meet a design code, for example. Outside of doing a few simple calculations, you don't need to solve a differential equation or solve an integral. All of that has already been done to develop the code.

Now, if you are doing research or are trying to develop something new for which there is not much prior knowledge, you might have to rely on math moreso to predict how this new device will perform.

I personally don't use a lot of high level math as a naval architect, although my undergrad was chock-full of the same math courses listed in the OP. About the only time I dust this stuff off is when I read a hard-core technical paper running over with various mathematical statements.

A lot of the heavy math lifting is done using computer programs to analyze designs now, freeing the engineer from the drudgery of number crunching.
 
  • #4
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I fully agree with SteamKing!

newageanubis - as you said you enjoy also programming: What about working for a software company that develops that sort of engineering software SteamKing has described?

Elke
 
  • #5
analogdesign
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Which careers involve actively using all of that cool math? I would prefer not to have to attend graduate school.
Unfortunately a lot of the cooler math problems will be solved by people with Ph.Ds. I have gotten involved a bit with sparse coding and compressed sensing over the last six months or so and it is really interesting but it is the system architects that get to play around with equations mostly, the implementers have profoundly interesting and satisfying problems to solve but they usually don't involve a lot of detailed math.
 
  • #6
SteamKing
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Unfortunately a lot of the cooler math problems will be solved by people with Ph.Ds.
This is certainly true. To take one example, the boundary element method allows one to analyze numerically many problems in physics, structural mechanics, fluid mechanics, etc., which normally would be analyzed using the older and more mature finite element method. However, the boundary element method uses more advanced mathematics for its development, and since it is the new kid on the block, so to speak, there are more than a few PhD. candidates writing a thesis who chose to develop or apply the mathematics of the boundary element method to analyze a certain problem in physics or mechanics. A lot of these same PhD. students will do further work in this field after obtaining the doctorate degree.
 

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