Erica Goosen graduated from GVSU in 2009 with a mathematics major, along with minors in both business and engineering science. Since graduating, she has earned an MBA Certificate in Design and Innovation Management from Kendal College of Art and Design and is currently working toward an MBA degree from the University of Alabama-Huntsville.
Erica is employed as a Senior Product Engineer with Steelcase, Inc. In her position, she acts as a technical expert for Steelcase products made at the company’s Athens, Alabama plant and handles all changes and problems related to the design of a product over its life cycle. Reasons for changes can include, among other things, the need to address quality complaints and/or to identify means of reducing manufacturing costs. Erica develops test plans, modifies computer-assisted drawing (CAD) files, revises the product’s bill of materials as needed, and ensures all engineering-related documents are updated appropriately.
In her work, Erica must manage several projects at once. Skills she developed as a math major, which help her in this regard, include the ability to observe multiple complex processes at once, to notice patterns and discrepancies, to tackle multiple problems systematically, and to be very detail-oriented. Specific GVSU courses she cites as being invaluable in her position are Linear Algebra (MTH 227), statistics classes (particularly STA 312 and STA 314), and Programming Language for Parametric Designs (EGR 261).
Erica encourages students interested in majoring math to do so, especially if they are unsure of what career paths they wish to follow. She states, “If you are like I was in college - haven’t narrowed down what you want to do after graduation but recognize you enjoy math - I would recommend a major in mathematics.
Mathematics is a functional, multi-faceted degree. Other majors can pigeonhole you into one field, whereas a mathematics degree can be applied across various fields and careers. A mathematics degree will teach you skills that are valuable and desired by many employers.
Also, don’t feel you need one specific degree for a career. Get a degree in something you are passionate about and enjoy doing. Your skills and experience matter more in the working world than the heading on your degree.”
Erica also advises students to take advantage of internships as a means of gaining professional experience outside the classroom. “Skills and experience are the biggest deciding factors in hiring -- you will have the skill set from your mathematics degree but will need experience. Internships help get your face out to future employers and help you narrow down what you enjoy doing (especially helpful if you are indecisive like me).