Friday, October 11, 2013

MIT Educated Engineer Builds a Business by Teaching Math to Kids

What is your name, and what do you do?

My name is Stephanie Espy, and I’m the founder and president of MathSP ( MathSP is a math enrichment company that helps individuals to improve their math skills. Based in Atlanta, Georgia, MathSP provides instruction to middle school students, high school students, college students, adults who need additional math-based resources alongside their coursework, and students who need an added challenge beyond their coursework. MathSP also prepares individuals for the math section of various standardized tests such as the SAT or ACT, computer-adaptive exams such as the GMAT or GRE, and state exams such as the EOCT or GHSGT.

What is your educational and professional background?

I earned a Bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from MIT, Master’s degree in chemical engineering from the University of California at Berkeley, and MBA from Emory University. I worked as a chemical engineer for several years both in the United States and in England. While completing my MBA in 2008, I founded MathSP.

You have authored two scientific publications. What makes your findings significant contributions to the scientific community?

While a graduate student at the University of California at Berkeley, I conducted research at the United States Department of Agriculture. My research involved engineering natural rubber-producing plant species to yield better quality rubber in higher volumes. In one publication, I was able to explain the biosynthesis of natural rubber in a specific plant species and understand, for the first time, kinetic differences between two types of rubber biosynthesis. In another publication, I helped to explain how metal co-factors and substrates activate and inhibit rubber production. Both of these papers added significant contributions to the science community and help to get one step closer to the country’s goal of growing rubber-producing plants in the United States that produce high quality rubber in large volumes.

You are the founder of Math Strategies and Problem-solving (MathSP). What makes your tutoring and test prep services superior to those of your competitors?

MathSP provides premier tutoring and test prep services in the metro Atlanta area. We are the only company that specializes in math tutoring and test prep; thus, we employ math experts to help our students become more fluent in the math language. Unlike other companies, our test preparation courses are heavily focused on the math section of the test. We provide more classroom hours geared solely on the math section – an average of 18 hours! Thus, our students’ math scores are hugely impacted both in their school grades as well as on state and national exams.

Our teaching methods and approach to problem solving also make MathSP unique. We utilize a facilitative teaching style that allows instructors to identify the gaps in a student’s Math ability. Using a concept-based approach to learning, students begin to understand their mistakes and flawed logic and to identify their strengths and areas for improvement. Furthermore, the SP Method, our signature approach to problem-solving, provides a structured approach to tackling math problems in a step-wise manner.

What advice would you share with students who are apprehensive about pursuing an engineering degree?

The best advice I can offer students who are interested in pursuing engineering is to talk to someone who has an engineering degree and “walk in their shoes.” Consider attending an engineering-based summer program at MIT, Georgia Tech, UC Berkeley, Stanford, or any other college or university where engineering is a core major. After my junior year in high school, I spent the summer at MIT in a program called MITES (Minority Introduction to Engineering and Science). The MITES program helped me to understand the field of engineering; I took engineering courses and had projects that gave me great insight. As a MITES student, I also interacted with college students, graduate students, and professors at MIT who exposed me to the seemingly unlimited opportunities that can result with an engineering degree.

As an entrepreneur, did you face any challenges in starting MathSP? What specific piece of advice would you share with other entrepreneurs?

As an entrepreneur, I face challenges every day. However, I am very passionate about what I do. There is no other career I’d rather have. It’s my passion for math and helping individuals excel in math to reach their education goals that allows me to face the daily challenges head-on. In order to be a successful entrepreneur, you must have three things: passion, persistence, and a plan. MathSP will continue to grow as long as I have these key ingredients.

Is there anything else you’d like to share with our audience?

At MathSP, our students see immediate improvement in their confidence and skill level in the following Math subjects: arithmetic, pre-algebra, algebra I, geometry, algebra II, statistics & probability, data analysis, trigonometry, pre-calculus, calculus, and other math-based subjects.

MathSP’s Math Test Preparation helps students score higher on the quantitative section of any standardized test. We prepare middle school students for CRCT, EOCT, SSAT, SAT-TIP tests and more. High school students are prepared for the ACT, AP Exams, EOCT, GHSGT, PSAT/SAT, SAT subject tests and more. We help college students and professionals score higher on the quantitative section of the GRE, GMAT, DAT, GACE, and more.


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