Mathematics and Information Technology

A division that adds up: Math and IT at the Mount

A computer literacy class at the Mount.

The Division of Mathematics and Information Technology at Mount Saint Mary College offers students unique opportunities both inside and outside the classroom, developing their skills and preparing them for employment in many in-demand fields.

Pursuing your passion

One of the best things about the Division of Mathematics and Information Technology, says Assistant Professor of Mathematics Christina Alvey, is the number of options that students have to personalize their major to their interests.

Mathematics majors can choose a pure Mathematics focus, pursue elementary or adolescent education certification, or take advantage of one of the Mount’s newest academic offerings, Actuarial Science, which combines math and business courses to prepare students for the insurance field.

On the Information Technology side, students can elect to hone their focus through concentrations in Networking, Web Technologies, Educational Technologies, or Cybersecurity. For those who want to put a creative spin on the STEM-focused major, the Mount also offers an interdisciplinary program, Technology and Digital Media, which combines courses in Information Technology and the Division of Arts and Letters.

All of these programs help students to develop their problem solving skills, which Sagar Raina, assistant professor of Information Technology, stresses are critical in today’s job market.

“Successful professionals need the ability to analyze the problem, design the solution, and implement it effectively,” he notes. “Our courses...are designed to provide these skills and prepare students for real world problems.”

Students in the Mount's Math Club help to tutor BDMS students.But Mathematics and Information Technology students’ exploration isn’t just confined to the classroom – students in the division have continual opportunities to apply their knowledge in the field. Internships at leading companies and organizations like Habitat for Humanity, the Boys and Girls Club, IBM, and Google abound, and students in the division also benefit from competitions, on-campus academic clubs and honor societies, and trips to area industries.

Above: Students in the college's Math Club help to share their passion with middle school students at Bishop Dunn Memorial School, an on-campus K-8 school, with after school tutoring.

For example, Mount Mathematics and Information Technology students recently participated in Kryptos, a national competition hosted by Central Washington University that challenges students to decode hidden messages within a 96-hour period. The students were able to decipher all three messages, earning the tenth fastest time in the country. Another set of students participated in the inaugural Student Competition Using Differential Equation Modeling (SCUDEM), hosted at the Mount in 2017, that challenged students to develop a modeling scenario based on mathematical problems.

Additionally, members of the Mount’s Information Technology club, Byte Knights, benefit from an annual excursion to New York Public Radio in New York City, which provides a behind-the-scenes look at the broadcast center’s information technology infrastructure.

The trip allows students to “see IT in action,” explained Sean Jennings, an IT major from Hopewell Junction, N.Y. “Being able to see all the different parts of their operation in person was an appreciable experience that couldn’t have happened within the bounds of a classroom,” he said.Mount students visit NPR to view IT structure.

Information Technology and Journalism students at the Mount learn how to apply their classroom knowledge to the real world with a trip to New York Public Radio in New York City.

Making an impact

The Mathematics and Information Technology students at the Mount aren’t waiting until graduation to make a difference – they’re already finding ways to impact their chosen fields.

For example, Mathematics students Jennifer Kurtz and Toni Navarro spent a recent summer engaging in paid research with Mathematics professors Lee Fothergill, chair of the Division of Mathematics and Information Technology, and Mike Daven. The group put together “Hudson Valley Math Trails,” a scavenger hunt math quest spanning across a variety of historic and cultural Hudson Valley locations, such as Dia:Beacon, to be implemented in educational settings. 

Students participate in research at Dia:BeaconRight: Jennifer Kurtz and Toni Navarro work with Math professors Lee Fothergill and Mike Daven to create math problems based off of the slope of artwork at Dia:Beacon in Beacon, NY.

Fellow Math major Kristen Berish also contributed to the research realm with her recent project, “Investigating Toxicology Results among Suicide Victims in Upstate New York,” which she presented at the Fifth Annual Joint Conference of the Upstate Chapters of the American Statistical Association at Canisius College with Professor of Mathematics Jennifer Bready. 

Mark Maino, a senior Information Technology major, didn’t wait for his diploma to get started on his dreams. Last summer, Maino applied the skills he learned in his programming courses at the Mount to create two iPhone gaming apps. 

“At the Mount, I took a programming course that made me love coding,” he explained. “I knew I wanted to make an app similar to the ones I’d been playing for the last several years of my life.” 

That dream was realized thanks to Maino’s ability to take what he’d learned in class and apply it in real life, a skill that is taught in every classroom at the Mount.

Alvey encourages her students to think outside the box when it comes to applying their skills: “Math can be used anywhere and for anything. Most companies will hire mathematicians to problem solve, to just sit and think about a problem and shed new light on a situation, so you can use math truly to do anything.”

Assistant Professor of Mathematics Christina Alvey (center) works with students in her classroom.

Christina Alvey works with a student during a math class.

Lasting legacy

Alumni from the Division of Mathematics and Information Technology take what they’ve learned at the Mount and use it to make a lasting difference in the Hudson Valley and beyond.

Aaron Ricci '16, who majored in Information Technology with a concentration in Networking, received two job offers in the technology field just two weeks after graduation. Ricci, assistant systems analyst at Central Hudson Gas and Electric (a position offered to him after an internship coordinated by the Center for Career and Experiential Education), credits his success to both his professors and the staff in the Mount's IT Support Center, where he worked part-time during college.

“I had an invaluable job with the IT Department which gave me significant insights into various areas of technology and business processes, and helped hone my skills,” explained Ricci. “Without their help and advice, coupled with the tireless efforts of the IT professors, I would not be where I am today."  

He encourages all students to take advantage of the real world experiences offered at the Mount: "It's never too early to start thinking about life after college."

Mathematics major Karen Borst ’14, who also pursued Adolescent Education certification while at the Mount, is now inspiring other future mathematicians as a middle school math teacher at IS73 in Maspeth, NY.

The ability to problem solve that her study of Mathematics fostered has come in handy not just in mathematical settings, but also in practical ways in her classroom. “The Mount helped me to grow up and be independent, having the confidence to lead my own classes. It also helped me to decipher student needs and to effectively teach students, given different useful strategies.”

Be part of the equation

Are you interested in developing your skills in math or information technology? Visit the Mount at upcoming Admissions events to meet with faculty and learn more about academic programs within the division. msmc.edu/rsvp

Math professor Mike Daven teaches students in class.