Alumna in Focus: Wendy Hahn, Class of 2000
Wendy Kooiman Hahn graduated from GVSU in 2000 with a major in mathematics and a minor in engineering. As Wendy describes it, this combination “has given me a great foundation in problem solving with a foundational knowledge in engineering techniques.” After completing her undergraduate degree, she went on to Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, where she completed her M.S. in Operations Research and Statistics with concentrations in Systems Engineering and Simulation. Currently she works as an Applications Systems Engineer for Smiths Aerospace Company in Grand Rapids. Her work at Smiths focuses on Flight Management Systems control display pages, test procedures, and navigation.
Reflecting upon her coursework at GVSU, Wendy indicates that the advanced calculus sequence challenged her a great deal but also taught her so much. In terms of mathematics she uses on a daily basis in her job, she indicates the mathematics of logic and proof is of vital importance and that, on occasion, she has used topics from wavelets and calculus.
As for advice she gives current GVSU students, Wendy urges students to take advantage of internship opportunities during their college years. For Wendy herself, she obtained such internships at the Holland Group, Inc. and at Herman Miller. In addition, she encourages students who are contemplating graduate school to participate in undergraduate research programs like the REU program she participated in at Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Massachusetts.
Like many students who have majored in mathematics and pursued nonacademic careers, Wendy has discovered the marketability and versatility of her skills. As Wendy states, “There is not necessarily a direct correlation between a mathematics major and a career, unlike an accounting major and a career in accounting. That is what is so fun about a mathematics major. It is so flexible. Most large technological companies find mathematicians assets because they have the problem solving skills and creativity.”