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Today I spoke with Ilisa Oman from the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). She has a big job there and uses math every day. I think it’s pretty cool that even though she isn’t terribly comfortable with math, she’s been able to become proficient in the math she needs to get her job done.

Can you explain what you do for a living?

NAMI Maryland is the state organization for the National Alliance on Mental Illness. My overall job is to make sure our messaging gets out there – erasing the stigma of mental illness and letting people know about all our programs. I have multiple roles in my position. I plan our major events such as our Walk, Annual Conference, Annual Meeting. In addition, I am responsible for all of our communications and outreach efforts such as creating our print and electronic newsletters, messaging through social media, and maintaining our website, flyers, webinars and press releases. And, I am responsible for some fundraising such as our annual campaign and our Walk. In addition to planning the logistics of that event, I am also responsible for soliciting sponsors and recruiting our fundraising teams/donors.

When do you use basic math in your job?

I use basic math to create my budgets when planning all of my events. An accurate budget is critical, particularly when working for a small, underfunded non-profit. I need to be cognizant of not only what things cost but also the related service charges and fees and be able to accurately calculate them. I also use math in determining our fundraising goals – percentages, where we are in relation to last year, and where we need to go.

Do you use any technology (like calculators or computers) to help with this math? Why or why not?

Calculators and Excel spreadsheets are my best friend. I wouldn’t dream of trying to create a budget without those tools.

How do you think math helps you do your job better?

As I mentioned, accurate budgets are critical for any event, but particularly for a small non-profit with little money. Math helps me do my job better because it keeps me on track. Seeing the numbers and an actual budget keeps me grounded and helps me realize the limits I have to work within when planning an event.

How comfortable with math do you feel? Does this math feel different to you?

Honestly, I am not comfortable with math. I never have been. It is probably harder for me to do this math, even with tools at my disposal, because the functioning of my organization depends on it.

What kind of math did you take in high school? Did you like it/feel like you were good at it?

I have never been good at math. My senior year in high school, most of my friends were taking pre-calc at a minimum. However, I took a class called “Pre-College Math” which basically was math to help me on the SAT.

Did you have to learn new skills in order to do the math you use in your job? Or was it something that you could pick up using the skills you learned in school?

The math I use is pretty basic. I just needed to become proficient in Excel.

Anything else you want to mention?

My daughter was diagnosed with a learning disability in math when she was in 2nd grade. Fortunately, in this day and age, there are so many resources out there to help people overcome such challenges, resources that I wish I had when I was young. Never be afraid to ask for help with math!

 Want to know more?  Please ask or comment below.

Photo Credit: chuck.taylor via Compfight cc

Man oh, man! You’re in for a treat today–especially if, like me your favorite character on Law & Order SVU is Dr. Huang. Jaime Adkins has been a forensic psychologist for six years. Basic math allows her to manage her time, so that she can meet those pressing deadlines.

Can you explain what you do for a living? 

I complete court-ordered evaluations of felony-level offenders in 11 counties. I complete interviews and psychological assessments to offer the court a professional opinion regarding issues of competency to stand trial, not guilty by reason of insanity, death penalty mitigations, intervention in lieu of conviction and bindover status for juveniles.

When do you use basic math in your job?

I use very little math in my profession. The majority of math is simple addition and subtraction for time management. We are allotted 30 days to complete our evaluations. This amount of time includes the interview, assessment, travel time, report writing, etc. I have to calculate the amount of time needed. Also, I have to report the amount of time that was spent on each portion of the assessment.

Do you use any technology (like calculators or computers) to help with this math?

No. It is simple math that I am able to complete in my head without a calculator or computer.

How do you think math helps you do your job better?

Math contributes to time management. This affects productivity and the budget. By utilizing math I am able to determine if I am spending too much or too little time on certain aspects. Although my job is not always time specific (as some cases are more difficult), it still keeps a boundary.

How comfortable with math do you feel? 

I am comfortable with simple math that is required at work. In general, I do not feel comfortable with math. I have always had difficulty with higher level mathematics.

What kind of math did you take in high school?

I took Algebra and Calculus. I did not enjoy it and had difficulty with it. I often had to ask my older brother for help with my homework. I was thrilled when I completed my last class relating to mathematics.

Curious to know more?  Let me know any questions you have, and I’ll see if she can spare some time to answer.

Photo Credit Photo Credit: Jack Mallon via Compfight cc

I hope you never have to go to court. But if you do, you’ll appreciate folks like Amanda Tuttle, who is completely dedicated to accuracy and details. As a judicial assistant, her main responsibility is to keep court records, including video and audio recordings. And that takes a little bit of basic math. 

Can you explain what you do for a living? 

I have been in this role for five years, and I keep the court records of all court proceedings by video and audio.  In addition, I run the equipment. I also hold evidence during trials, and I am responsible for transferring that evidence to the property room once the trial or case is complete. I do a lot of data entry.  This entails typing to file for public record and mailing notices as well as orders and entries to individuals and/or attorneys. 

When do you use basic math in your job?

The only basic math I use is telling time and reading the times in my video log to find a portion of a court hearing. [Editor’s Note: This is not as simple as it sounds, since time is in base 60, while we’re used to managing numbers in base 10.]

Do you use any technology (like calculators or computers) to help with this math?

The technology used for this math is on the computer.  However, I do not use it as an aide to read the time.

How do you think math helps you do your job better?

Being able to read time helps me do my job better because I can easily tell time to look for specific portions of the record. I have to do this in order to provide a copy to the judge to make a ruling or to provide a copy to the transcribing company.

How comfortable with math do you feel?

I feel comfortable with basic math. This math does not feel different to me, because I learned how to tell time in early childhood and use it everyday.

 What kind of math did you take in high school?

I took algebra and geometry in high school. I liked algebra, and I did feel like I was good at it. I actually enjoyed it. However, I did not like geometry and was not very good at it.

Are you intrigued by the role of judicial assistant?  I found it interesting to hear about what goes on behind the scenes.  Any questions for Amanda…let me know!

Meet Wendy Lawrence, a real, live astronaut who has logged more than 1,225 hours in space. Cool, huh? From 1995 until 2005, Lawrence took four trips into space, including the last Shuttle-Mir docking mission on Discovery. She also took rides in Endeavor and Atlantis. 

And, duh, she used lots and lots of math as an astronaut. She breaks it down below.

Wendy Lawrence

Can you explain what you do for a living?

As a NASA astronaut, first and foremost, your job is to support NASA’s human spaceflight program. For example, one of my jobs in the Astronaut Office was to oversee the training of astronauts who would spend five to six months on the International Space Station (ISS). In this job, I had to work closely with representatives of the other participating space agencies to determine the specific content and length of the training flow.

Certainly, the highlight of being an astronaut was having the opportunity to be assigned to a mission! I was very fortunate to have the opportunity to fly on the space shuttle four times. On my first flight, STS-67, we performed astronomical observations with the three telescopes that we had in the payload bay. My next two flights, STS-86 and 91, went to the Russian space station Mir. My last flight, STS-114, was the first shuttle flight after the Columbia accident and we went to the ISS.

When do you use basic math in your job?

Astronauts use math regularly. We often fly in the T-38 jet for crew coordination training and to travel to other locations for mission training and support. Before every landing, the crew (front seat pilot and back-seater) needs to calculate the landing speed. This requires basic addition, subtraction and division. We subtract 1000 from the current amount of fuel and then divide that number by 100. We then add the result to the basic landing speed (155 kts or knots). Here’s an example:

2000-1000 = 1000

1000 ÷ 100 = 10

Landing speed is 155 + 10 = 165 kts

We also have to use math when we fly the space station robotic arm. This arm was built by the Canadian space agency. They used centimeters to measure distances and centimeters are displayed on the control panel. When NASA astronauts ride on the arm during a spacewalk, they typically measure distances in inches and feet. For example, the space-walker may say that he or she needs to move 12 inches to the right. Knowing that there are 2.5 centimeters per inch, the robotic arm operators can make the conversion to 30 centimeters (typically done in our heads) and then fly the arm to that new location (based on the numbers displayed on the control panel).

Do you use any technology to help with this math?

Typically, we when fly in the T-38 jet or fly the station robotic arm, we don’t use calculators or computers to help us with this math. When your hands are on the controls of the jet or the robotic arm, it is hard to use a calculator!

How do you think math helps you do your job better?

When we fly the T-38, it is a matter of safety. We could quickly get ourselves into trouble if we don’t land the jet at the proper speed.

How comfortable with math do you feel?

I studied engineering in college, so I do feel very comfortable with math.

What kind of math did you take in high school?

I took geometry, algebra II, trig and pre-calculus in high school. I did enjoy math, but I did feel like I needed to work hard to be good at it.

Did you have to learn new skills in order to do the math you use in your job?

Basically, for the situations that I have already described, I could use the math skills that I learned in school.

No surprise that Wendy uses lots of math, right? But I was a little surprised that she used so much mental math. And I didn’t expect her to say that she had to work hard at math in high school. What surprised you? Share in the comments section.

Leah Davis is tough as nails. She’s been a firefighter in North Carolina for 17 years. These days, she is a Captain EMT — intermediate. I had never really thought about the math required to fight fires, but reading through Leah’s responses, it all makes perfect sense. If your little guy or gal is interested in firefighting as a career, this interview is a must read!

Can you explain what you do for a living?

I am a Captain on a fire engine. This means that I respond to and mitigate emergencies ranging from motor vehicle accidents, fires (all sorts), medical emergencies and rescues. In addition to providing emergency response I complete preplans of existing businesses; the preplans are walk-through inspections which provide information of a buildings layout and any hazards that might be associated with the business. As a member of the fire service I am responsible for participating and providing training in all aspects of the job.

When do you use basic math in your job?

Within the fire service there are many opportunities to use math. The first one that comes to mind is calculating pump pressure to determine the PSI (pounds per square inch) on the end of a nozzle.  Basic math skills, like addition, subtraction, multiplication and division, are necessary. A basic understanding of hydraulics and good understanding of formula usage is vital.

In order to calculate the amount of nozzle pressure is necessary, the engineer must find the friction loss of hose distance, along with appliances and elevation. Only then can the the pump be set up properly. Engine pressure is the sum of the nozzle pressure plus the friction loss plus any elevation or devices. Based on the engine pressure formula EP = NP + FL, if we need a nozzle pressure of 100 psi to flow 100 GPM then the engine pressure needs to be greater then 100 psi.

When determining how much water will be required for any given structure that is 100 percent involved in fire, the fire engineer must calculate the area and divide by 3. This gives the gallons per minute required to extinguishing the fire.

Math is also used when providing medical care. Division is used in calculating the correct dosage of medications to administer. Many medications are calculated milligrams per kilograms or mg/kg.

Do you use any technology to help with this math?

I use a calculator when finding the fire flow or GPM needed on the preplans.

Technology is not usually used on the fire ground when calculating the engine pressure. The engineer needs to be well trained and able to calculate the engine pressure in their heads.

How do you think math helps you do your job better?

Having math competency provides me with additional problem solving skills. The fire service is about problem solving.

How comfortable with math do you feel?

Although I am not a math whiz by any means, I do feel relatively comfortable with math most of the time. The math that is used within the fire service–like area of a structure, GPM needed, nozzle pressure, medication dosage–helps insure the safety of firefighters and others.

What kind of math did you take in high school?

I did not take much math in high school because I did not like it and did not feel successful. However, in college I was required to take remedial math courses and then was able to move on to taking more advanced classes, including calculus. I graduated from college with a good understanding of math and problem solving. I also found that I enjoyed the problem-solving aspect of math.  Too bad I didn’t pay more attention when I was in high school.

Did you have to learn new skills in order to do the math you use in your job?

I was comfortable with my math skills when I entered the fire service.

Do you, or your child, have questions for Leah about firefighting? If so, ask in the comments section. As for summer-slide activities, why not take your child to a fire station for a tour? While you’re there, ask about the math required on the job.

I have a confession to make: I’m so fascinated by the law enforcement agents who profile criminals.  Criminal Minds,Silence of the LambsSe7en–I could watch them over and over again.  And so I am so pleased to have a real, live FBI profiler here at Math for Grownups today.  In her book,Dangerous Instincts: How Fear Can Betray Us, Mary Ellen O’Toole, PhD, puts these experiences to work everyday life.  And today, she reveals how she uses math in her work.

Can you explain what you do for a living?

For half of my career, I worked in Quantico, at the FBI’s Behavioral Analysis Unit, the very unit that is the focus of the television show Criminal Minds. While there I tracked down, studied, and interviewed some of the world’s most infamous criminals, and I analyzed their crime scenes, too. These criminals included Gary Ridgeway (the Green River Killer), Ted Kaczynski (the Unabomber) and Derrick Todd Lee (the serial killer of Baton Rouge.) I worked everything from white-collar crime to work place and school violence to kidnappings to serial murder.

Since my retirement in 2009, I’ve worked as a consultant to law enforcement, corporate security, administrators, and many other professionals. I also teach at the Smithsonian, FBI Academy and many other locations.

When do you use basic math in your job?

As I and other profilers worked to solve a crime, we used every type of math from basic addition to geometry and pattern analysis to statistics and probability to reasoning and logic.

For instance, if I were working a serial murder case, I might study the age of the victims and the period of time that the crimes occurred to make a prediction about the killer’s age. Or my colleagues and I might place pins in a map to mark where all of the victims were last seen and where all of the bodies were found. We might use several different colored pins to then mark all of our suspects, tracing their movements and seeing what overlaps and what doesn’t. By doing this, we could sometimes narrow our suspect pool to just one or two people, as they were the only ones who could have been in all of the right places at the right times. We might also look at the map for patterns. These patterns might tell us where an offender is likely to leave his next victim or commit his next crime.

Did you have to learn new skills in order to do this math? Or was it something that you could pick up using the skills you learned in school?

I learned all of the basic math I needed to do my job while in school, but profiling itself requires a lot of analytical thinking, especially reasoning and logic. You get better at both of those over time and with experience.

Math tends to have absolute answers. It’s usually more of a black and white field. It’s about finding the one number or answer. Profiling, on the hand, requires you to live in the gray area of human behavior. This can be difficult for people who prefer to have things more absolute. For instance, people like to mentally sort humans into neat little cells much like math cells. They want to think of one person as a psychopath, another as “crazy” and someone else as “kind.” But humans cannot be sorted into neat little cells.

When you are talking about psychopaths—people who lack a conscience—people think you either are one or you aren’t. But this isn’t true. There are 20 traits and characteristics of psychopathy. Some people have a few of the traits, but not others. Other people have all of the traits, and they would be considered psychopaths. Still other people have most of the traits, but not a heavy dose of each one.  Psychopathy is dimensional, like blood pressure. All of us have blood pressure, when it gets high, you are diagnosed with “high blood pressure”. Blood pressure is not a taxon – something you either have or you don’t. The same is true of psychopathy.

Do you use any technology to help with this math?

We used computers, smart phones and the Internet just like everyone else and we also used a number of databases. For instance the Violent Criminal Apprehension Program (ViCAP) is a database that contains information on homicides in the US. When we are working a single or serial murder case we’ll use this database to see if other solved or unsolved homicides around the country might be similar. We input extensive details for points of comparison and the data base crunches the data for us. This helps law enforcement to become aware of serial criminals sooner—especially when they commit their homicides in multiple states.

The FBI’s National Crime Information Center (NCIC) is another database that contains crime data. It houses more than 15 million records about stolen items, license plates, registered sex offenders, known fugitives and much more. When a police officer stops you on the side of the road, he runs your plate and license in this database and can find out quickly whether you are a wanted person, in violation of the immigration laws, a suspected terrorist and much more.

How do you think math helps you do your job better?

The ability to analyze and use logic is key for a profiler. Without it, the job just can’t be done.

How comfortable with math do you feel? 

I feel comfortable with the math I know and need to do my job. My job did not require advanced algebra or differential equations. It required logic and reasoning and both were applied to real life—real crimes and real people. That breathed a lot of life into math for me and made it exciting.

What kind of math did you take in high school?  Did you like it/feel like you were good at it?

When I was in high school, I was good at statistics, but not so good with algebra. I liked the application of math and the problem solving part of it. Solving a math problem is a lot like solving a crime. I went to Catholic schools when I was growing up, and the nuns there were really big on teaching us to think analytically. That helped me tremendously in my career.

I’m almost afraid to offer this, but if you have questions for Mary Ellen, post them in the comments section.  I’ll see if she can answer them for you.  I know I’m still curious about her work! 

Dr. Josh Sharfstein

Ooooh!  We have a big-wig here at Math for Grownups today!  Dr. Joshua Sharfstein is a pediatrician and the Secretary of the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.  Before taking this position, he served as the Principal Deputy Commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). And before that, he was the Commissioner of Health in Baltimore.

I met Dr. Sharfstein when he was Health Commissioner of Baltimore.  He and I talked about having an epidemiologist on staff to help track (and therefore prevent the spread) of infections and diseases in the city.  I remember being fascinated by the statistics involved in his job.  Read on for more details.

Can you explain what you do for a living?

I run the health department in Maryland.  Our goal is to improve the health of Marylanders through health insurance for low-income individuals and families, services, community support, and education.

When do you use basic math in your job?

I often use math to understand the health of Maryland.  We are now tracking 39 specific measures of health, such as the rate of smoking and the number of children who are poisoned by lead paint. You can see these measures at the Maryland Department of Health website.  In addition to using math to understand each of these numbers, I often use statistics to see if Maryland is moving in the right direction, the wrong direction, or just staying the same.  I also use statistics to identify specific groups of people who are facing the greatest health challenges in our state.

Math is also involved in setting budgets.  Our Department’s budget is about $9 billion each year. That’s a lot of money to be responsible for.  I need math to identify the areas where costs are growing beyond what we anticipated.

How do you think math helps you do your job better?

Math is essential to my job. If I did not feel comfortable with math, I could not be responsible for the funding of our Department or the health of the people in Maryland.

How comfortable with math do you feel?

I have always loved math. It was my favorite subject in school.  I like surprising people at work by showing them my own calculations.  My children are now taking math, and I really enjoy learning along with them and teaching them math tricks from my days as a student.

What kind of math did you take in high school?

I took calculus and advanced calculus in high school.  I took a special math class at the University of Maryland in College Park when I was in high school.

Did you have to learn new skills in order to do this math?

In college and afterwards, I took classes in statistics.  I use math from high school and statistics from college and beyond to do my job.

Do you have questions about Dr. Sharfstein’s job?  If so, post them in the comments section.

And while you’re at it, if you have special requests for Math at Work Monday features, drop me a line at llaing-at-comcast-dot-net.  Also feel free to send the names and contact info for those who might be willing to be interviewed!

Ronn Wade talks with a student during University of Maryland’s Mini-Med School for Kids at a summer camp in West Baltimore. (Photo courtesy of University of Maryland.)

At first glance, you might find Ronald Wade’s job a bit gruesome, but he plays a pretty important role.  As the State Anatomy Board director for Maryland, Wade is responsible for the bodies that are donated to science in Maryland.  Each year, about 1,500 cadavers are available to Maryland research facilities.  

“Anatomy is not just dissecting bodies,” he says. “Yes, a large part of what we do is to implement anatomical preparations and provide surgical areas and research equipment. But we also assist students to enhance and improve learning, and assist clinical staff to develop skills and expertise, all for the sake of the patient.” 

In our interview, he explains how he uses math in his work.

Can you explain what you do for a living?

I administer the state’s Body Donation Program, which means I carry out the disposition (cremation and burial) of Maryland’s unclaimed decedent bodies. I also provide for the transport, preparation and medical study use of those bodies to advance medical and health science through education, training and research. And I provide anatomical facilities and prepare cadavers and specimens for medical school study and for clinical use by physicians, surgeons and allied health occupations (i.e. surgical residence, trauma, paramedic & EMT training). Since I manage a public program, I provide aid and assistance to the citizens of Maryland and advance anatomical understanding and knowledge.

When do you use basic math in your job?

Because I work for the state, I manage four budgets, which requires that I calculate and forecast state appropriations revenue and expenses. Then there’s the accounting, which includes data entry for detailed ledgers and updating accounts, and managing inventories and controls. I also need to use chemical formulations to compound dilutions.

Do you use any technology to help with this math?

I do use calculators, computers.  In particular, I depend on spreadsheets and databases to perform math functions.

How do you think math helps you do your job better?
In my job, being able to perform arithmetic and math calculations with current technology is basic to minimal acceptable performance.

How comfortable with math do you feel?
It’s a matter of repetitive use and progression. Increased familiarity raises the comfort level and skill.

What kind of math did you take in high school?
I took basic math, binary systems (“new” math), algebra, calculus and accounting. I never liked math — it seemed detached to my life at the time — and was pleased just to get a passing grade.  However, I think it was because it was presented in the abstract and not so much as problem-based learning.  We should learn and teach math in such a way that takes the mystery of finding the answer but is more challenging for students!

Did you have to learn new skills in order to do the math you use in your job?
I had a basic foundation from school, which I use in my job today.

Happy Halloween everyone!  Come back on Wednesday, when we’ll start our month of nesting–with tips on home winterizing and settling in for the colder months (at least for many of us), filled with special family time.

Because of the 4th of July holiday here in the states — and because this is so darned cool! — I’m veering a little from the normal Math at Work Monday topic.  We’re going to get a little geeky today with Andy Testa, a simulations and analysis engineer for NASA.

Andy Testa, simulation and analysis engineer

Okay, I don’t even know what a simulations and analysis engineer is, but yeah, Andy uses lots of math in his job–but not the way you think.  He operates a robotic arm for the Space Shuttle, which will enjoy its last launch later this month.

So get your geek on, and enjoy a little independence from any math fear or anxiety you may have.  Andy has a cool job that’s worth reading about!

Can you explain what you do for a living?

I work at NASA’s Johnson Space Center as a support engineer for the Space Shuttle’s robot arm, known as the Remote Manipulator System or Canadarm. I’m responsible for running computer simulations of the arm performing new tasks or moving new payloads and am also an expert on the arm’s control software running on the Shuttle’s computers. [pullquote]It isn’t efficient to do advanced math all the time. The hard stuff is built in to the simulators and special software that we develop one time. The day-to-day work is much more basic.[/pullquote] The simulations are usually to make sure that planned operations won’t stress the arm beyond what it’s designed to handle, which is surprisingly easy to do. I do troubleshooting when something doesn’t work right during a mission, whether that’s a software glitch, a mechanical failure, or an unplanned procedure that has to be simulated. Much of the time I’m working on backup plans for how to complete a mission if any number of potential failures happen.

When do you use basic math in your job?

When I describe my job to most people they respond with “I could never do that!” They imagine that I do a lot of advanced math, but the reality is that it isn’t efficient to do advanced math all the time. The hard stuff is built in to the simulators and special software that we develop one time. The day-to-day work is much more basic.

So, I use basic math every day. When working with robots like the Shuttle arm you’re constantly having to think about two things: the position of the tip of the arm in space, and the angles of all of the joints.  These are related by geometry and trigonometry. I spend a lot of time working out geometry problems relating to the payloads that the arm moves. Each payload, like satellites or a piece of the Space Station, has to have a lot of numbers generated to allow the robot’s computer software to move them correctly. I need to calculate where the arm attaches itself, where the mass is centered, where the docking ports are located, and the direction the arm should move in when the astronauts move the controllers. Trigonometry is also used quite heavily, since I spend a lot of time worrying about angles and rotations, whether for each individual joint on the arm, or coordinated rotations of the payload as a whole.

Do you use any technology to help with this math?

That’s the robotic arm. (Photo courtesy of NASA)

Yes, we use computers constantly to help with the math, especially when we have to calculate trigonometry problems. Many of the problems I work on are similar enough that I can make a template for them in a spreadsheet, and use that over again with new payloads. For example, I frequently have to calculate a specific set of rotations to define how the arm attaches to payloads. By doing the calculations once and storing them in a spreadsheet, I can use it again just by inputting the unique geometry of each new payload. It saves a huge amount of time and effort, and lets me send all of the calculations to other people by sharing the files.

How do you think math helps you do your job better?

Not just better; without math my job would not be possible. Everything about spaceflight, including the Shuttle robot arm, is completely dictated by math. Knowing math not only allows me to continue to solve the problems we know about right now, but it also gives me the tools I need to figure out how to solve new problems.

How comfortable with math do you feel?

I feel quite comfortable with the level of math I use on a daily basis. I will frequently use similar math at home for hobbies or entertainment, for example, finding out exactly how much bigger a new widescreen TV is than my old tube TV.

What kind of math did you take in high school?

I took mostly standard college prep math classes in geometry and algebra. I didn’t take calculus until college. I was relatively good at math in high school, but I didn’t really understand it well until after a few years of practice in college.

Did you have to learn new skills in order to do this math?

Much of the math I use daily could be easily taught to someone with good high school math skills. Using the geometry and trigonometry to build descriptions of payload and robot motion is a skill that was developed more in college physics classes, though. That doesn’t mean it’s harder, just that it’s a specialized way of using the basic math that is being taught in high school. But the meat of what I do, hand calculating angles, areas, and sines and cosines, are straight out of basic high school math.

Thanks so much for playing, Andy!  Readers, if you have questions, please feel free to post them in the comments section.