Mathematics is among the most fascinating of all intellectual disciplines and purest of all art forms. The study of mathematics is not only exciting, but important as mathematicians have an opportunity to make a lasting contribution to society by helping to solve problems in such diverse fields as medicine, management, economics, government, computer science, physics, psychology, engineering and social science.
Choosing a university upon graduation from high school was a difficult choice to make, but I certainly don’t regret my decision to complete my undergraduate degree at Cape Breton University. In May of 2012, I graduated with an Honours Bachelor of Science degree with a major in mathematics. Having made the choice to study such a quantitative subject, I really took advantage of the small class sizes and was never afraid to ask questions. The CBU math professors are extremely helpful and encouraging. Nearing the end of my degree, I decided to take some business courses and I discovered that I had an interest in finance. I was then accepted into the Master’s in Financial Mathematics (Phimac) Program at McMaster University, which has been both rigorous and rewarding. The program finishes with an industrial project, which I am currently in the process of completing while working at TD Bank in downtown Toronto. It has been a very eye opening experience to see finance from a mathematical perspective, especially at the corporate level, and I would encourage any math student to consider whether they have an interest in finance, as it can lead to a very rewarding career.
I graduated from CBU in 2005 with an Honours BSc in mathematics. Since, I have completed my Msc in 2007, and recently my PhD in August 2012, both in mathematics at Dalhousie University. I have had several opportunities to teach courses as a part-time instructor at Dalhousie and recently completed their Certificate in University Teaching and Learning. I have also had the unique opportunity to work as Assistant Director for the high school outreach program Math Circles. We host local events at Dalhousie and also travel around the province giving fun and interactive presentations on various mathematical topics. I really enjoy teaching mathematics and hope to continue my career in this field!
I have always loved mathematics and was reassured in my choice of field by my education at CBU. The instruction I received was of excellent quality, and the department was very friendly. In upper level courses, the small class sizes allowed for more individualized attention from professors and more interaction among students, enhancing my learning. I also had the opportunity to work with different professors in multiple areas on summer grant projects and my honours thesis, which developed my interest in mathematical research. Overall, I’m very glad I chose to study at CBU and feel that my experiences there definitely motivated me to continue my academic career in mathematics!
Over the years the strong math training I received at CBU has let me analyze a number of problems that would otherwise have been difficult to tackle. Just last month I used concepts from Discrete math, Probability & Statistics, and Calculus to help solve a two-year old mystery of why some of our spacecraft were occasionally resetting in space. This knowledge can now be used to help make our future satellites more reliable.
Many engineers tend to think that the math they learn at the university level will never be of much use to them again. This belief is reinforced early on by working engineers who confirm that they have never, for example, used calculus. This myth that advanced math is not useful in engineering tends to be self-fulfilling because, when opportunities do arise in which it could have been used, those who have already given up on it are far less likely to attempt to analyze complex problems using it. They resort instead to gut feelings, estimates or expensive and time consuming simulations/experiments. The best engineers I’ve encountered in my career have all had strong analytical tools in their belt, enabled in part by a solid understanding of math.
Cordell began his studies at CBU in 1997 and graduated in 2000 with a Bachelor of Science degree (concentration mathematics) and a diploma in Mechanical Engineering. In 2003 he completed his Bachelor of Mechanical Engineering degree at Dalhousie University having also spent a year working as a co-op student at IMP Aerospace Ltd. In 2005 Cordell completed a Master of Applied Science degree at the University of Toronto Institute for Aerospace Studies, Space Flight Laboratory (SFL) where his thesis focused on the Design of the Structural, Thermal Control and Deployable Subsystems for the Canadian Advanced Nanospace eXperiment-2 (CanX-2) Nanosatellite.
In 2006 Cordell was promoted to the position of Manager of Satellite Systems at SFL and took over full management of the CanX-2, BRITE, CanX-4/-5 and GNB projects. In April 2008 Cordell travelled to India to support final preparations for the launch of CanX-2, which occurred successfully later that month. CanX-2 continues to perform well in space several years after its design life has elapsed. In 2010 theCanX-2 team was honoured with the CASI Alouette award for outstanding contribution to Canadian space technology, science and engineering.
Cordell’s current primary focus is the BRITE-Constellation mission which, in 2010 and 2011, grew from a constellation of two satellites to six when the Austrian pair was joined by additional pairs of satellites from both Poland and Canada. Since 2010 Cordell has led the integration of five of these satellites and will be supporting the integration of the sixth in 2013. In the immediate future he will again be travelling to India in late 2012 to support the launch of the Austrian BRITE satellites and, as the remainder of the constellation launches over the coming year, will be overseeing joint commissioning and operations of the mission from Austria, Poland and Canada.
The math program at CBU is great. The professors are knowledgeable and passionate about their specialties, and genuinely want to see their students succeed. I had such an amazing time that I decided to go back and do an honours project, an incredible experience and my proudest academic achievement to date. My time in the math program at CBU helped me realize how much I want more students to fall in love with math, and gave me the confidence to continue my education so that I can become a teacher. I am currently in a BEd program, something I never would have considered without the positive experience I had in my time at CBU.