What is your job and for whom do you work?
At Intel, I work with the Corporate Affairs Group to building training material to teach under served youth the skills they will need for future technology jobs. I work with robots, laser cutters, 3D printers and drones. I travel around the world teaching students and teachers these much needed skills. This year, I have been to India, Malawi and Mexico. In India, we have launched centers in 500 government schools across the country using my training.
What math skills are most helpful to you in your work?
I use Algebra in creating a list of materials needed to teach my classes. For example, I need 750 LEDs to teach a class of 30 students. Some schools teach 25 students instead of 30. In addition, sometimes the LEDs come in packs of 10, sometimes in packs of 500. The packs are each priced differently as well. I use Algebra to help solve this problem and provide each school with enough grant money to buy the necessary materials.
In robotics, I use geometry to guide the robot through it’s task. The robot moves using angles and rotations. Even building the robot requires geometry to make sure the support structures match up.
What has helped you be successful in math?
Like playing a musical instrument, Math takes practice. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t get it right the first time. Practice, Practice, Practice!
Math is fun. My family plays lots of math games:
- Guess what number I’m thinking of?
- How many cookies can we buy for $10?
- How many trucks do you think are in that lot?
These games help keep your math mind sharp and make a boring outing more interesting.
In general, I find math most useful when you are doing something with it. My family does a lot of making at our local maker space. We cut and measure and build. We do the math all along the way.
My wife made me a shirt that says “I did the math!” because I tell her that all the time when we are trying to figure something out.
What advice do you have for parents about math?
It’s never to late to learn some math. You’ll be surprised when it will become helpful.
I think people think math is hard but that’s because they forget math takes practice. You don’t pick up a guitar and play like Jimmy Hendrix the first time. Math also takes practice.
There are many ways to do the math. If your student’s text book doesn’t help you, look online. Khan Academy and Better Explained both offer great ways to learn math for free. There are many other tutorials and videos that might make it easier for you and your child to understand the math.
Don’t be afraid to learn along with your child. It’s okay to say “I don’t know. Let’s go online and look it up.”