In the early 80’s, Tom Ludwig was a busy middle school student focused on competitive swimming, his love for video games, computers and of course, math. His math talents and interest lead him to be a standout Project MEGSSS student, completing three years of the program. In fact, he credits Project MEGSSS for giving him his first job of grading first-year students’ work during his third year of the program.
“In hindsight, I realize that MEGSSS was a bit like a college course. It taught me to read the book closely and study the notes I made in class in order to finish homework,” says Tom. “It taught me careful self-study habits; different from mainstream 7th grade math that can often focus on repetition of concepts. I remember the first year feeling like learning a foreign language—logic with those P’s and Q’s was fascinating!”
Tom moved away from the St. Louis in his early high school years, but what he learned at MEGSSS continued to impact his academic career. He says he didn’t feel challenged at the MEGSSS level again until advanced classes later in high school.
“I was a bit unchallenged when I went back to traditional math class after MEGSSS,” Tom explains. “But, I finished calculus BC in junior year and took University of Delaware second-year calculus class senior year. Next, I enrolled in honors calculus at UC, San Diego and excelled thanks to my MEGSSS preparation.”
Today, Tom has a successful career as an engineer at a manufacturing plant for adult beverages. He’s spent 25 years in various control system engineer roles, being a part of how many household items are made, and traveling the US and to foreign countries. His job requires him to use mathematical (analytical) thinking to solve problems in a deductive way, all things we emphasize in MEGSSS.
“Programming and solving manufacturing problems require me to talk to operators and production leads to discern their needs and translate that into new technology and code,” says Tom. “My coworkers consider me very good at what I do and I can’t stress how much a good education and a good character are in being successful and happy in the work you do someday.”
Now, as a parent, Tom emphasizes the importance of academic preparation with his daughter, but he also encourages her to pursue her extracurricular hobbies and passions. He knows that the support of his mom during his MEGSSS years were crucial to his long-term success.
“Initially, I didn’t know that I needed MEGSSS in my life,” he said. “As it turned out it was hard for me to leave MEGSSS when we moved, I even kept the materials until a few years ago in hopes that my daughter might have an interest—she’s going the medicine route. MEGSSS and computers were my passion during middle school, which ultimately propelled my success in high school and beyond. I’m truly grateful for MEGSSS. The subject matter fit into my life at the perfect time and stimulated me.”
“Ultimately, I hope students and parents today who are considering commitment to this program can feel some of my fondness and appreciation for what it meant to me.”