John Potter, BS/MS

Acton, Massachusetts

Degree earned at WPI:
BS, Mathematical Science
MS, Applied Mathematics

What he does:
John has been teaching high school math—mostly algebra, geometry, and trigonometry—at Monty Tech since fall 2008. He has taught mostly freshmen and sophomores, although he plans to teach math at the upperclassmen level in the coming years. He enjoys working with students who are “mature, focused, and willing to work.”

Math on the job:
Aside from teaching classes, John and two other high school math teachers are currently rewriting the honors curriculum at Monty Tech. They believed it was a “disservice to students to not allow them a full year of calculus.” They designed a calculus class for honors track students, as well as a discrete mathematics class to allow students to step down from the honors track. They wrote a discrete mathematics textbook suitable for a high school level, and began teaching the Monty Tech’s first discrete math class in fall 2011.

John's background:
From Acton, Massachusetts, John had always had a knack for math. “I gravitated toward math,” he says. “The atmosphere seemed to work with my personality.” Once he declared his major, John quickly became involved in the department. He was a Peer Learning Assistant (PLA) for calculus, differential equations, and linear algebra.

For his MQP, John’s team worked with Bose Corporation to create a math model for torque in a screw. When Bose manufactures electronics, parts of their assembly lines are completely automated. A few years ago, Bose was having issues with screw optimization. Once John’s team had created their model for torque, they traveled to Bose to test it and present their findings to a team of engineers. Their research was continued with REU programs at WPI.

As an undergraduate, John was involved in Global Awareness of Environmental Activities (GAYA), WPI’s chapter of Society of Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM), and the math honor society Pi Mu Epsilon. He was a brother of the co-ed community service fraternity Alpha Phi Omega. John earned his Bachelor’s degree in 2006.

As a graduate student at WPI, he was a Teaching Assistant (TA) for higher-level math classes such as discrete mathematics and the advanced calculus series. John found his work as a TA “beneficial” and akin to an internship, because he now teaches for a career. John received his Master’s degree in Applied Mathematics in 2008.

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