By Dorothy Cheng
Many students have no idea what they want to study when they start college. I starting to believe answer this question is a life-long process. I graduated two years ago and I'm still figuring out what I want to do when I "grow up" (though I've got a pretty great gig now!).
When I was a student, I worked in a variety of different jobs and the ones I liked the most involved math education. I worked both as a private tutor and as a Peer Assisted Learning facilitator for SMART Learning Commons on campus. After graduating, I taught Algebra 1 and Geometry for one year in Kansas City, Missouri, through Teach for America. I don't think teaching high school is my calling, but I still feel very passionately about every person's right to an education. I'm in the process of figuring out where that passion will take me in the future. For now, I'm very happy to be back at the University of Minnesota because I really enjoy working with students and their families as they prepare for college.
I know from experience that the College of Science and Engineering prepares its students to do exciting, world-changing things after graduation. For example, two recent grads have created a start-up company called NewWater. Joe Mullenbach, a former mechanical engineering student, and Alex Johansson, a former chemistry student, are taking what they learned in classrooms at the U of M and creating a commercial product.
Atrazine is an herbicide which is used by many farmers in the U.S. From their U of M professors, Joe and Alex learned about a microbe which can degrade Atrazine. Now, they are hoping to create a filter which will reduce Atrazine concentration in water.
Listen to these grads explain their idea and see their lab: