The University of Arizona

Alumni Early Career Profiles - Carolyn Lanser

Name: Carolyn Lanser
Education: B.S., Mathematics and Computer Science, The University of Arizona, May 1999
Position: Technical Staff Member
Rincon Research
Sector: Manufacturing


Rincon Research Corporation's focus is innovating, developing and fielding digital signal processing (DSP) products and services. When I began working here 5.5 years ago my primary task was working with a team to continue the development of Midas2k, an object-oriented digital signal processing application framework written in C++. For the past 3.5 years I've been part of the geolocation team, which is a small multi-discipline group of engineers creating and maintaining geolocation systems.

Because Rincon Research is a small company (~125 employees) I perform a variety of tasks and was immediately expected to be self-starting and take on responsibilities. Within my first month of employment, I was working to design, present and implement a mechanism for representing and maintaining precision time within the M2k framework. It is imperative for geolocation systems to have accurate and precise time. It was interesting to develop from both a software (implementation) standpoint and fundamentally if you consider the various signal processing transformations the data may go through in a typical system. My job continues to involve interaction with customers (installation/upgrade support, debugging, assistance integrating products, etc.), status and technical presentations, design and development of new capabilities, testing, documentation, and much more.

I obtained an undergraduate degree in mathematics and computer science from the University of Arizona in May of 1999. Calculus, complex variables and linear algebra are all types of mathematics that are used in various digital signal processing algorithms, which of course is prevalent at my job. It is also very important to be an effective communicator (both written and oral). You must be able to communicate your ideas to be successful. Computer programming skills and familiarity with UNIX/Linux is also necessary here at Rincon Research. Finally, having an open mind and a desire to be flexible has proved useful.

I think having a strong mathematics background is a wonderful skill to have because it is prevalent in a myriad of fields (gives you many career choices) and trains you to use critical thinking skills (which is useful in any job). Also keep in mind that mathematics, like other fields, is quite diverse. If you aren't thrilled with calculus, try taking an abstract algebra class. Not everything will come naturally to everybody and that's okay. Hard work is nothing to be ashamed of. Finally, talk to your teacher/professor to discover the various programs and internships available. They provide a great learning experience, networking within the mathematical community and also expand your knowledge on the various mathematical careers available to choose from.