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Hagerstown native is a true mathematician

July 08, 2011|By TAYLOR ECKEL | taylor.eckel@herald-mail.com
  • Salisbury University graduate Amy Matonak integrated math and computer science in a research project.
Submitted photo

Math and science seem to run in the Matonak family blood — and Amy Matonak is no exception.

Matonak, the daughter of Dan and Robbie Matonak of Hagerstown, recently graduated summa cum laude from Salisbury University with bachelor of science degrees in computer science and math.

Matonak said her father is a structural engineer, her sister is a mechanical engineer, one brother majored in math and physics, and her other brother is a math teacher.

Matanok, 22, received two academic awards in recognition for her academic achievements at Salisbury. She also received the Most Promising Mathematician award, as well as the Department of Mathematics and Computer Science Award. According to Salisbury University, the Most Promising Mathematician award is conferred to students who "have been judged by a consensus of full-time faculty in  the department to show the most promise in mathematics."

The Department of Mathematics and Computer Science Award is given to "students, selected by consensus of the full-time faculty ... who have done the most to promote a mathematical environment" at the university.

Matonak, who is a 2007 Williamsport graduate, was able to integrate math and computer science in a research project that she completed during her time at Salisbury.

"I did a research project that was updating a program that students use for linear algebra," she said.

Matonak explained that she worked to upgrade a program that had been written by previous Salisbury students and is now used by professors at a number of universities across the country.

"I expanded the capabilities of (the program) to include more functions and features," she said, adding that her version of the linear algebra program is currently being tested and will probably be released for use this fall.

Matonak said she has always enjoyed math — and although her family might have been her  influence — it was largely encouraged by the success she found in her high school math courses.

"I liked math in high school and I seemed pretty good at it," she said.

Matonak said she did not become interested in computer science until her college years. She said her first exposure to computer science came when she took a computer science course that was required for her math major. She said she enjoyed it so much that she decided to minor in computer science, and then she soon added it as a second major. Matonak explained that there is a relationship between math and computer science.

"Computer science is like a foreign language, but more technical. The logical thinking is where the math comes in," she said.

Matonak also shared her knowledge of mathematics by serving as a peer tutor at Salisbury. She said the highlight of tutoring was when her frequent students would come in excited about a good test grade or improvement in their classes.

"It was nice to see that you were helping people," she said.

As president of the Math and Computer Science Club, Matonak said she and club members volunteered at high school math-related events held at Salisbury and she attended a math conference every year.

Matonak was also involved in various sports. She said she played three years on the women's Ultimate Frisbee club team, participated in intramural sports, and joined Salisbury's women's tennis team her senior.

Matonak is currently living in Central Maryland and is searching for a job in the computer science field. She said she does not have definite career goals, but hopes to be "doing something that I enjoy and makes me think every day."

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