Maplesoft Blogger Profile: Stephanie Rozek

Marketing Engineer

I work in Maplesoft’s Technical Marketing group. When explaining my role to people I usually tell them that “I wear a lot of hats”. I am in the unique position of being able to interface with many different people, including our user base, the research and development team, product managers, executives, and of course marketing. As it turns out, this means that I get the chance to really talk to people about what they want and need, and generally do a great deal of translation between the different camps, something I quite enjoy.

I grew up in a small town a few hours west of Toronto and moved to Waterloo to study Electrical Engineering at the University of Waterloo. Since then I’ve worked in the high-tech and engineering field, acting as a “translator” in a variety of ways.

My first introduction to Maple was as a high school student, and I’m amazed at how far it’s come since then. I’ve always been intrigued by mathematics and its applications, so working here with so many motivated and brilliant people is quite inspiring, especially at this point in time with all the new directions we are pursuing.

Posts by Stephanie Rozek

A favorite diversion of mine (and of many around the Maplesoft office) is xkcd. Its author, Randall Munroe, bills it as “a webcomic of romance, sarcasm, math, and language.” Since 2005, he’s been entertaining many self-proclaimed geeks with his unique and slightly skewed jokes on technology, computer science, mathematics, and relationships.

I really like the post in which a substitute teacher – hm, Mr. Munroe......

We are all Connected...

October 14 2009 Stephanie Rozek 110
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Unless you’ve spent the past five years on an isolated island in the middle of the Pacific, you’ll have heard of Facebook and Twitter and LinkedIn and MySpace and Flickr. Social media sites: whether you love them, hate them, or just don’t get them, they’re going to be here for a while. If you’re like many of us, you may have a few accounts on these sites, whether you’re a power user or occasional dabbler. Social media allow us to re-connect with old friends and colleagues, share our thoughts – and photos, advertise, network... and generally waste time. :)

It’s been nearly ten years since I first walked onto the University of Waterloo campus as a freshly minted undergraduate, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed and eager to learn all about electrical engineering. I guess it’s hard to believe the speed with which time passes. It’s actually a bit astonishing how much I can still remember about orientation, or “frosh” week, like 4 a.m. fire drills, a very messy obstacle course, sitting with 800 other young engineering students in a lecture hall, and above all, meeting new friends.

This week I decided to do some research and find out the details of how to make model animations with MapleSim, by adding in CAD drawing files of the component parts. To see what I mean, take a look at this quick animated movie that shows a robot arm with five degrees of freedom:

A few weeks ago I made a short trip down to Lincroft, New Jersey, to deliver a Maple training course to a group of math professors at Brookdale Community College. I’d been to Manhattan before, but never New Jersey, and didn’t really know what to expect. I was pleasantly surprised to fly in over a lush and verdant landscape, with temperatures hovering in the mid-70s. My host, Barbara, had graciously invited me to her home for dinner, and we had a great conversation about teaching math, the Verrazano Bridge, dealing with deer in the backyard (Barbara was originally a Brooklyn girl, used to the concrete jungle!), and of course, what to expect the next day at the college.

Ever since I filled out my university application papers, I’ve been faced with the cocktail party question, “So, why did you decide to study engineering?” It’s not surprising, of course, given the low number of women who choose to enter the fields of math or engineering. I’ve actually been asked this question so often that I have a stock answer which I can pull out without having to think about it: When I was considering my field of study, I was equally drawn to the arts and the sciences, but it made more sense to prepare myself to work
in a field where the jobs were. Engineering seemed a good fit, and still provided a sort of outlet for my creative impulses. Plus, it would be easier to pursue art and music as a hobby, rather than anything scientific; it would be much harder to find the resources to pursue any scientific interests on my own.  Why electrical engineering? I’d heard it involved more math, something I was drawn to.

Over the past few months, a team of dedicated staff has been working hard on a project that has recently come to fruition: I’d like to introduce you to Maplesoft’s new and improved Application Center. The Application Center provides one central place where you can find “thousands of free applications from the Maplesoft community”, such as Maple documents, graphics, animations, and packages; and MapleSim models, components, and templates.

In the media today, there continues to be much discussion about how students in North America are moving away from the math, science, and engineering disciplines. It is an established fact that countries such as China, South Korea, and Taiwan graduate a much higher number of engineering students than those in North America. This is a cause for great concern in today’s highly complex world, and schools are attempting to solve the problem with math in a variety of ways, with varying success rates.

Happy Pi Day!...

March 13 2009 Stephanie Rozek 110
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I suspect many of our readers are already on to this, but for the few uninformed among us, tomorrow is the 21st annual Pi Day. On March 14, this “holiday” is celebrated by those of us geeky enough to realize that this date, 3/14, is also the common approximation of the number π. The first Pi Day celebration was held in 1988 at the San Francisco Exploratorium, led by its creator, Larry Shaw. Those attending this year’s festivities have a chance to work on pi puzzles, sing pi songs, and of course, eat lots of tasty pie. Their Pi Day website includes lots of fun information and activities you can even do at home. If you’re not in the area, be sure to check out their webcast, or join the revels on Second Life at the ‘Splo, the online version of the Exploratorium.

It seems like everywhere you turn lately, people are talking about how to be kinder to the planet. One example is just how much interest was generated when GM unveiled its plans for the Chevy Volt last year. As I write this, 46,527 people are on the waiting list for the upcoming electric car, which is scheduled to be released in late 2010 as a 2011 model. At my house, we wash our clothes in cold water; use a programmable thermostat; turn off the lights when we’re not in a room; recycle and compost our waste; use a low flush toilet, energy efficient appliances, and an electric lawnmower; and of course, snuggle our two dogs for warmth!   

Friday Specials!...

January 22 2009 Stephanie Rozek 110
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One of the great parts of my job is getting to meet all sorts of incredible people from all over the world. One of these, a math professor, is very close by to us, both geographically and professionally. Professor Jack Weiner is one of the most popular educators at the nearby University of Guelph. He is passionate about his work and it shows: he has won numerous awards, including the award for most "Popular Prof" in a national annual survey of Canadian Universities, for eight out of the last nine years.

A colleague of mine recently mentioned something to me about an article that circulates every year during the holiday season, entitled “The Physics of Santa Claus”. This was news to me, so I ran a few Google searches to find out what she was talking about.

Come January, a group of Maple experts will be heading to the American capital, not for the presidential inauguration, but to attend the 2009 Joint Mathematics Meetings. This year’s event marks the 115th annual meeting of the American Mathematical Society (AMS) and the 92nd meeting of the Mathematical Association of America (MAA). 

I’ve always been fascinated with the relationships between math and music, since they are both fields in which I take a great interest. This week I’ve been delving into some of the history that links the two. For instance, the Greek mathematician and philosopher Pythagoras (circa 569 - circa 475 BC) is probably best known for the Pythagorean Theorem. However, he also made significant contributions to music, the influences of which can still be seen today.

I was fortunate enough to spend the last two weeks on vacation in the south of Spain. Spain is a country composed of intricately layered history and traditions; influenced over thousands of years by its various inhabitants and conquerors: the Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans, Visigoths, Moors, and of course the Christians (the Reconquista ended with the surrender of Granada in 1492 to Ferdinand and Isabella, the same year Christopher Columbus made his famous journey). Its food, music, art, architecture, and customs display these intertwined influences in unique and sometimes surprising ways.

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