The Math and Physics Advantage
Did you know that the learning of math is the most efficient way of creating problem-solving structure in your brain? When a person repeatedly practices math and math related content, the neural connections that are formed and reinforced are in an area of the brain associated with problem-solving skills. This does take time. Other studies have shown that for many of us the development of this area in the brain occurs later in life often in the late teens and early twenties. We have heard many students who have come back to school at 20 or 21 years old and they say, "I don't understand why this same math was so hard in high school".
What is more expensive when buying a computer? The memory? or the Processor? Memory for a computer these days is relatively cheap but we are all willing to pay big bucks for the latest and most powerful processor because of WHAT IT CAN DO. Well that is interesting because in the job market, employers pay people for WHAT THEY CAN ACTUALLY DO. Most often, employers speak of hiring problem-solvers....people who can think. Math and Physics (physics is applied math) are two of the best subjects for enhancing this ability and this is precisely why we include more of them than any other chemistry program in the province.
Just this past winter semester, we had a student from out of town that wished to do their technical project with a company some distance away. In a phone conversation they asked questions about this program, specifically about the physics and math content. The chemists over there commented on how problem solving skills seem to be hard to come by these days and they liked what they seen in our program.
A hiring agency for a large company had to whittle down 100 applications to six for the interview process. Four out of the final six came from our program simply based on the fact that, "the program was academically stronger than the others and it showed during the interviews".
At September start up, essentially all the students are concerned about the math/physics. First of all, both subjects here are designed to be delivered (particularly in first semester) at a reasonable pace both in content and volume and secondly the professionals who deliver it have their degrees or graduate degrees in math and physics. By the end of first year in April, we do a follow up discussion with the class and basically every last person speaks of how neither the math or the physics was "as bad as I thought" and in fact most say that physics was one of their favorite courses! Advantage to our grads