Valued Added: Lessons Beyond Calculus and Algorithms

Maddie Boster ’18, Mara Kilgore ’19, Bobby Craig ’18, and Ben Brown ’19 in Olin

A common joke among the math and computer science students at Denison is how we all live on Olin’s second floor, the department’s home base. While this may be an exaggeration, it is true that we spend a lot of time here learning from each other and professors. When it comes time to leave our home base, how has Olin, its staff, and our peers prepared us for what’s to come? After talking with Bobby Craig ‘18, Maddie Boster ‘18, and Ben Brown ‘19, we can sum it up with these four C’s:

First, communication. In the midst of job interviews and conference presentations, Maddie, Ben, and Bobby all agree that our department’s small, involved classes taught them to not only share their ideas but also to communicate the thinking processes behind them. When working closely with Dr. Neal on a statistical regularization methods project, Ben was pushed to fine-tune his presentation skills in order to communicate clearly and efficiently complex ideas.

Second, cognition. As we cannot sit idly by in math or computer science courses, we are trained in active thinking. Equipped for quick problem solving, Bobby felt prepared for whiteboard style interviews, having to think on his feet when solving problems during his interviews. Beyond just quick thinking, our students are taught to think deeply, to go beyond the scope of the problem and draw on other experiences to shape our analytical process.

Third, curiosity. Denison math and computer science students are never done learning. Maddie and Bobby both agree that, despite all the knowledge they have gained in Olin, there is much more for them to learn in the workforce after graduation. For Ben, his research was constantly changing as he made discoveries. Having the time to brainstorm and explore with Dr. Neal, he was pushed to consider new ideas.

Fourth, collaboration. Working closely with each other and professors, both in and out of classes, leads to constant collaboration here on Olin second floor. It is no question for Ben, Maddie, and Bobby, that professors are a vital part of developing and strengthening us as mathematicians and computer scientists. More importantly, the professors and staff of this department have been mentors, encouragers, and friends to all of us, preparing us not only to be good students but better people as well.

Despite all the late nights and the occasional tedious assignments, our time in Olin shapes and matures us be better leaders and learners, preparing us in many ways for the opportunities ahead.

March 5, 2018