Club Spotlight: Mines Actuarial Science Club (MASC)

With the club’s first ever meeting happening just over a month ago, it is safe to say that the Mines Actuarial Science Club (MASC) is one of the newest clubs on campus. However, despite its short existence, the club already has a small but devoted following, and it is always looking to add more. Aimed at raising awareness about the actuarial profession, MASC is a joint venture between the AMS department and the Division of Economics & Business. It is geared towards, as put by AMS department head Dr. Willy Hereman, “self-motivated students that possess strong mathematical thinking and are good with statistics.” Hereman is a key contributor to the club’s operations. MASC is also open to anyone possibly looking to pursue a career in the field or just wanting to learn a bit more about it.

So what is an actuary? Simply put, an actuary is a statistician that focuses on risk assessment and decision making. They are masters with math, probability, and statistics, but are also knowledgeable in the fields of economics, business, and even law. In addition, actuaries are consistently one of the highest rated jobs by sources such as Forbes, as they are always in demand and can be rather lucrative when it comes to potential salaries, including right out of school. The high demand of actuaries coupled with the fact that, due to the profession’s own system of advancement by exams, a bachelor’s degree in mathematics is all that is really required to enter the field, and the actuarial profession appears to be quite a great opportunity for those that enjoy math and statistics.

Besides just promoting the actuarial field, MASC also focuses strongly on preparing students for careers in the field through exam preparation. With the help of Dr. William Navidi, professor and senior statistician here at CSM, Mines’ Intro to Probability course (MATH334) is great preparation for the first of the exams (the probability, or P exam). Also, work is in progress for the Economics division to hopefully offer the courses needed to prepare for the second exam (the financial math, or FM exam) soon.

After the first exam has been passed, opportunities for internships often begin to appear for many students, and that is where it helps to have a former actuary in the club. Professor Rod Switzer, the initiator of MASC, has roughly a dozen years worth of experience as an actuary in the Denver area and is still connected to several companies that are looking for interns and employees. From bringing in guest speakers that work in the actuarial field to discuss their companies and jobs to connecting students with potential employers, his past experience is certainly a benefit to the club.

While the short-term goals of MASC are to promote awareness and interest in the field and to prepare students for the earliest exams, the club has certain long-term goals it would like to see met as well. At some point in the future, MASC would like to see actuarial science at Mines expand beyond just a club, hopefully becoming a specialty under a Bachelor of Science degree in Applied Mathematics. To reach this point, curricula in both the mathematics department and the economics division would need slight adjusting to fit the programs required by the Society of Actuaries (SOA) and the Casualty Actuarial Society (CAS), the two societies sponsoring the previously-mentioned exams. Also, the addition and modification of regularly occurring applied statistics and corporate finance courses for VEE (Validation by Educational Experience) credit would be needed. Fortunately, work is already being done to try to make these changes happen and to gain approval from the necessary groups.

If MASC sounds like it might be interesting and worth looking into a bit closer, more information on the club can be found on the AMS department website. Also, for more information on the actuarial field in general, check out beanactuary.com. To be added to the club’s email list and receive information regarding upcoming MASC meetings and other club-related events, contact Prof. Switzer via email (rswitzer@mines.edu).



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