Math Alums Pass on Industry Knowledge

March 21, 2023
Jacqueline McCormick

Alums Sydney Schmidt ('20, Mathematics) and Kevin Shaw ('20, Mathematics, Computer Science) will join the Math department later this month to share how their time at Gonzaga led to exciting careers in space technology. We had the opportunity to sit down with both alums and what follows is a taste of what students can expect at the department's upcoming event. From Kevin:


Can you tell us about an influential math professor or pivotal point in your career at GU?

Every GU professor in the math department is amazing, but I would say taking the classes like Numerical Analysis and Stats for Experimentalists were some of the classes I think steered me toward the type work I am currently focused on. Those classes gave a window into the ways to apply what I had been learning and gave me some tools to learn which has benefited me greatly.


What led you to Lockheed Martin and what is your role there?

I got turned onto Space a couple years leading up to graduation and applied to some internships my junior year. I interned at Lockhead Martin the summer between junior and senior year. It was not the dream internship, from a technical perspective, but it was an opportunity to make connections and get familiar with the aerospace industry and the company. Once invited back full time I had a lot of opportunities to pursue. In my first few years with the company, within reason and manager approval, I sought out stretch assignments such as design trade studies, mission analysis work, and more. That variety of experience prepared me for my current role as a research scientist for Space; which at the very minimum looks way cool on a resume!


What’s one bit of advice you’d offer current math students who want to take a path like yours?

Research ways industries might use math backgrounds. It helps to get an understanding of ways your degree may be used when it’s not clearly laid out in front of you. I had no idea Lockhead was a place that I could use my math degree until I arrived and saw the ways the skills you learn do apply. Following on that, learn a skill you can apply your math background, preferably via some software, whether that be on your own time or in the classroom (numerical analysis could be good hint hint, wink wink).


Secondly, give every opportunity your best effort and take what you can from it. In the case of internships, they aren’t always glamorous. They CAN however offer opportunities to connect with people and learn about other aspects of a company or industry that can be very helpful for future growth and opportunities. Make sure to connect with people!


Sydney Schmidt gave us great insights into what inspires a student to follow a path at Gonzaga - from the Zag spirit to a favorite faculty member.



Are you a student interested in learning more about exciting careers in space technology and how mathematics can get you there? Stop by Herak, Room 244, Thursday, Mar 30, 2023 4:00 PM - 5:00 PM to learn more. Details can be found on our university events calendar.