A flexible major
Junior Computational and Applied Mathematics and Mathematical Economic Analysis (MTEC) major Noah Reich came to Rice intending to major solely within the social sciences. In high school, he was interested in politics and thought he wanted to be a diplomat. But he came to feel that it wasn’t the right path for him, and figured math or economics might be a better fit.
“My sister was studying applied math and finance at Columbia,” he said. “And I liked what she had to say about it.”
Then, he took CAAM 210 with Franklin Kenter, who was then a postdoc at Rice and has since gone on to be an assistant professor at the U.S. Naval Academy.
“He was brilliant,” said Reich. “The course was beyond anything I had experienced in high school, and I really enjoyed it. The class served the purpose of learning how to code (in Matlab), and it was eye opening.”
Discovering his interest in applied math, Reich took more CAAM classes, and realized he found his niche. It wasn’t without its challenges however. His high school background in the social sciences and humanities was different from that of many of his CAAM peers, who skewed more toward STEM study, and CAAM’s falling under the umbrella of the School of Engineering meant a rigorous course of study that both challenged and intrigued Reich.
“At first, it was really tough; at times I felt like I was under water. But I pushed through it and as I got better at mastering the subject matter, I felt overcome with a sense of pride and started to discover my STEM potential.”
Part of that realization was deciding to pursue a double major in both CAAM and MTEC, which Reich felt kept the balance between his newfound love of STEM and his roots in the social sciences. He felt the two majors would give him an edge in working in the financial sector, something he’s come to realize is part of his post-graduation plans.
“In a lot of Rice’s engineering majors, they really feel limited to engineering-specific applications, which makes sense. In bioengineering, for example, there are lots of medical applications. With CAAM, you have your core courses and the upper-level electives following those that can take you in a lot of different directions. With this flexibility, I feel like there is no limit to what I can do after graduation.”
Reich says his experience at Rice has helped him realize who he is.
“I have this math base,” he said, “and I didn’t know that until I came to Rice. Whereas in high school I was almost exclusively interested with politics and law, CAAM helped me get in touch with my identity as an engineer. I think it’s due in large part to Rice’s unique culture that I was able to see this.”
Reich said that he uses his analytical skills in his role as the Vice Chair of the University Court. His task is to investigate issues concerning violations of the Code of Student Conduct, and he often finds himself talking with students as well as RUPD. UCourt, he said, isn’t like other activities on campus with regular meetings.
“We meet when a situation arises. Cases tend to come up irregularly, but in general we have seen fewer issues on campus throughout my time at Rice, which is a testament to the positive trends of the student body .”
This summer, Reich will take his analytical skills to JPMorgan Chase, where he’ll do an internship in investment banking. He knows he has a firm foundation to build on.
“Rice is dynamic,” he said. “Good things happen here. When I think about my friends and their transition into college, mine was so much quicker and easier, because of the people and the resources available on this campus. From day one, Rice has given me the tools to succeed.”