By Mark G. McLaughlin
California’s STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Mathematics) program is designed to provide the state’s students with a background in five key disciplines. The rapidly changing modern job market not only rewards but often also requires people who can work across disciplines, or take what they have studied in one field and apply it to another. Multi-tasking not only means being able to do two or more things at once, but combining two or more things to enhance the final product. Here, for example, are just five unique careers pertaining to science that many do not automatically think of as math related.
The study of the science of medicine is the basis for a degree in pharmacology and for any career in the pharmaceutical industry, including that of a drug store or hospital pharmacist. Such professionals, however, must also have a solid education in applied mathematics. Even such simple tasks as weighing ingredients to combine in creating drugs and counting out the number of pills or measuring the amount of liquid needed to fill a medical prescription require a proficiency in basic mathematics.
The proliferation of popular crime-themed television series, movies and novels have inspired many viewers and readers to follow a career in the forensic sciences. These professionals not only find and retrieve evidence from crime scenes but also process and analyze that evidence. Without their hard and precise work, many policemen and detectives would have a much harder time in discovering “whodunit,” as would prosecutors in bringing such criminals to justice. Although the job title is that of a scientist, such professionals are also mathematicians. They use math every day to do things like measure out the chemicals used to test evidence they have collected or to determine the distance a bullet traveled.
Mathematical skills are required for those pursuing an engineering degree. While that is obvious for those studying to be mechanical, electrical, or structural engineers, it is also true for those seeking to become engineers in other fields, including the chemical and biochemical disciplines. Chemical engineers, for example, need to make precise measurements when combining ingredients to develop new products. Those who work in both the research and the production of such products are usually required to determine the costs and cost-benefits of those products, and are often required to determine a budget for their production. All of those tasks require an ability to make precise and correct calculations.
Computer Science Teacher
High schools, colleges and universities need educators who can teach computer science to their students. This type of educator must understand the computing technology behind that discipline. That requires a background in mathematics and the mastery of the mathematical skills needed to perform calculations and to analyze the efficacy of their course of instruction. To be current in their field means they must have the math background needed to conduct research in their field.