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Bob Burger

Indianapolis, Indiana
B.S. in Mathematics, 1981
Software Engineer at Beckman Coulter, Inc.

Profile

Ever since I was a child, I have enjoyed working with numbers and helping others solve problems. When I was 10 years old, I got my first computer, a Radio Shack TRS-80 Model I. I loved to program it. A few years later, I developed software to print invoices, record payments, and track inventory for my mother's home business. At that time, there were no commercial packages to do this.

At Rose-Hulman I double-majored in computer science and mathematics, and I went on to earn my PhD in computer science from Indiana University. At both schools I took a lot of math courses across a broad spectrum of topics, and I enjoyed all of them. My research was in the area of programming languages, and I used Scheme to implement my ideas. Scheme uses functions as its main means of abstraction and is thus impedance matched with mathematics and algorithms.

Since graduate school I have worked as a software engineer for a laboratory automation company, SAGIAN, part of Beckman Coulter. I particularly love the challenge of applying mathematics to make complex robotic systems that efficiently automate repetitive processes. My mathematics background has proven invaluable as I have worked in the areas of planning, scheduling, algorithm design & analysis, instrument control, robust communication, and fault recovery. In addition to these big problems, there are lots of little problems that crop up, and it is very satisfying to solve them carefully so that the system just works from the user's perspective.

Mathematics is the language of science & engineering, and it is also very useful for solving problems in many different areas. For example, I recently decided to upgrade my 16-year-old heating and air conditioning system at home. I developed a mathematical model of the various systems in Microsoft Excel to help me decide which system was the best deal for me. Now I'm tracking my utility bills to see how well the model predicts reality.

Please feel free to contact me with questions. If you'd like to learn more about what I do and  would be willing to come to Indianapolis for a day, I can arrange to have you spend a few hours shadowing me and seeing first-hand what things we do here.

I recently found a helpful career planning resource based on Holland codes (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holland_Codes). The free self-assessment at http://www.soicc.state.nc.us/soicc/planning/c1a.htm can give students some ideas of what careers are matched to their strengths.

This document was last modified: 12/01/2007
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