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Shreyas Chand

**Shreyas Chand**

Shreyas Chand, 17, is a mathlete in the truest sense of the word.

A few summers ago Shreyas, who just graduated from Middlesex County Academy for Science, Mathematics and Engineering Technologies in Edison, stayed on Rutgers University’s Busch campus in Piscataway for a month to participate with 34 other teens in a camp focused on his favorite pastime: math.

The result? If possible, he loves it even more. “I always knew that I liked math,” says Shreyas, who was accepted into his special magnet high school that stresses math, science and engineering while a student at Iselin Middle School. “But this camp was enlightening because I found out that I really do love math a lot. Every time let’s say you open a Web page or you’re going on Google or eBay and all these advertisements come up, there’s a lot of math that goes behind it. Once you look at it from a mathematician’s standpoint, it’s mind-blowing to see all the applications of math.”

During his camp experience, Shreyas delighted in basic number theory, a robotics competition (which he and his two teammates won), general math and, his favorite, cryptography. “Cryptography is about securing your data and making it secret,” says Shreyas, who plans a career in computer science. “We learned all sorts of encryption techniques.”

My data feels safer already. Shreyas is headed down a stylish career path—one that is paved with math, science, engineering and the latest technological advances. He was accepted into several top engineering schools, including Georgia Tech and the University of Illinois, and plans to attend UC Berkeley in Berkeley, Calif. this fall, double majoring in mathematics and computer science.

The value of math and science education these days is a no-brainer as this knowledge fuels some of the world’s greatest new jobs in high-tech areas like nanotechnology, biochemistry, environmental engineering and, of course, computer science.

Got math and science education? Well, you should. Here are a few tips from Joe Rosenstein, a Rutgers professor of mathematics and the past director of the New Jersey Mathematics and Science Coalition:

√ If you have a strong math background, then many more doors are open for you in the future. Many kids are surprised to find out that many college majors have math requirements. You don’t want to be in a position of wanting to major in something and not being able to do it because you don’t have the math background.

√ The goal shouldn’t just be to pass the test, but to develop a level of mastery, particularly in algebra and geometry. A lot of students complete their high school math requirements in their junior year and don’t take math again in their senior year. When they come to college and have to take a math course, they’ve been away from math for a year and a half and they’ve lost it all. It’s very important for all students to take four years of high school math.

√ Science is very important because so many careers involve science. Today everything is technological. It’s quite extraordinary to me how many people go into technology fields of various types. Anyone who wants to explore alternative forms of energy in terms of figuring out how to keep the world going without using coal, energy and gas will need an understanding of the science behind the career.

√ Many students will say I don’t intend to do anything for which I need math. Even if you don’t retain the content of a math course, the problem solving and the reasoning needed in math are useful in all areas.

√ Most students in college change their majors several times and most adults change their careers several times. You want to keep your options open, and math is critical to making sure your options are open.