What she does:
- Sarah Wilson is a mathematician at the National Security Agency. She has been with the agency since May of 2004. Sarah is a recent graduate of St. Lawrence University, and had no prior professional work experience before joining the NSA workforce. She was hired into the Cryptanalysis Development Program. The Cryptanalysis Development Program is a three year program in which participants rotate from office to office every six to nine months and take a variety of courses on classified cryptanalytic techniques. The courses help to introduce topics relevant to the work done at the NSA, but most of the training is done on the job. The office rotation allows members of the development program to learn about many different aspects of the NSA mission, and find one that most interests him/her.
Math on the job:
- As a mathematician at the NSA, Sarah works on developing algorithms and analyzing problems pertinent to the NSA mission, using all fields of math, especially abstract algebra and statistics. Another key aspect of work at the NSA is computer programming. Much of the day-to-day work involves writing programs to implement and automate algorithms and solutions found in research.
- Sarah earned her Bachelor of Science degree from St. Lawrence University in May 2003, with a double major in Mathematics and Music and a minor in French. Courses that best prepare one for a mathematician position at the National Security Agency are Statistics, Abstract Algebra, Linear Algebra, Numerical Analysis, and Number Theory. Also, experience with computer programming is an asset. As a side note, in order to work at the NSA, one must undergo a thorough background investigation to receive a security clearance.