10 Ways to Make a Living Using MATLAB

By Jim Sizemore, John Paul Mueller

MATLAB is an excellent tool that performs a great many tasks. Adding MATLAB proficiency to your résumé may be the thing that gets your foot in the door for that bigger, better job you’ve been wanting.

Working with green technology

Today the energy picture is far different because many homes and businesses now produce energy in addition to using it. A solar panel on a home might produce enough energy to meet the home’s needs and the needs of a neighboring home, which means that the grid has to be able to deal with a surplus. In addition, the power company sources may now include wind farms in diverse locations.

The old grid system doesn’t have the intelligence to manage such diverse power sources and sinks, so new smart grids are being used to replace the old system and make the new system more robust and flexible. Developing and implementing smart grids is a lot more difficult than working with the grids of old — MATLAB can help you perform the math required to make these new grids happen.

Looking for unexploded ordinance

You can’t find an activity that’s much more exciting than looking for unexploded ordinance. However, most people don’t understand the scope of the job. It’s not just a few pieces of unexploded ordinance — it’s thousands of pieces spread over a large area. Trying to find every last piece is almost impossible without help.

People whose job is to locate unexploded ordinance use MATLAB to improve their chances of finding every last piece of it while keeping costs low. Most of these efforts have limited funds, so the challenge is to find more ordinance before the money runs out.

Creating speech recognition software

The need for computers to recognize what humans are saying is increasing as humans rely more heavily on computers for help. The uses for speech recognition go well beyond the basic need of turning human speech into something a computer can understand.

Robots may eventually provide the means for people to stay in their homes at a time when they’d normally move to a nursing home. These robots will need to be able to recognize everything a person is saying and react to it.

Expect to find a lot of jobs that work in the areas of speech in the future. Most of these jobs will require the ability to use math software, such as MATLAB, to speed up the process.

Getting disease under control

MATLAB has an important role to play in the never-ending quest for the cure and management of disease. For example, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) uses MATLAB for poliovirus sequencing and tracking.

The clock is ticking, and health organizations need every second they can get to chase down and kill off virulent diseases. Using products such as MATLAB makes researchers more efficient, creating the possibility of eradicating a virus or bacteria sooner.

Becoming a computer chip designer

A truly in-depth knowledge of computer chip technology involves not just electronics or chemistry, but a mix of both, with other technologies added in for good measure. Strong math skills are a requirement because you can’t actually see the interactions take place; you must know that they will occur based on the math involved.

The people who design chips today enter an alternative reality because things really don’t work the way you think they will when you’re working at the level of individual atoms. Given the rapid advances in chip technology, you can count on lots of opportunities in this area.

Keeping the trucks rolling

Designing better trucks may not seem like something you can do with MATLAB, but modern trucks are actually complicated machinery that has to operate safely on increasingly crowded roads. Designing trucks is a complex task.

You can easily extend this particular need to other sorts of vehicles. The amount of engineering to design a modern car is daunting. This requires engineering that is better done using math software.

Creating the next generation of products

When working in Research and Development (R&D), an engineer or scientist gets to work with bleeding-edge technology — things that no one else can even imagine. However, given the amount of innovation going on, you can be sure that many other jobs exist in this area. Most of these jobs require proficiency using math software such as MATLAB.

Designing equipment used in the field

Generators, tools, appliances, and all sorts of other devices require special design today. Not only does the equipment need to work well, but it has to do so at a low energy cost, reduced use of materials, nearly invisible maintenance costs, and with a small environmental impact. Trying to design such equipment without the proper math software would be nearly impossible.

Family planning

Researchers are currently using products such as MATLAB to help predict how the use of contraceptives and other family-planning methods will help reduce populations in places like India and Bangladesh.

Trying to find techniques that work well to help control populations so that the local economy can support them is hard. This is the sort of job that requires a mix of human and research skills. You’d use the biological add-ins for MATLAB in this case.

Reducing risks using simulation

Using simulation can greatly increase the likelihood of success. For example, consider the salvaging of the Russian submarine Kursk. It wouldn’t be possible to know whether the salvage could ever succeed without simulating it first. Simulations require both math skills and plotting, both of which are found in MATLAB.

Using a simulation also lets you identify potential risks at the outset, before the project is under way. Risk identification and management are important parts of many endeavors today.

Also, creating a great simulation helps an engineer with the required knowledge to figure out the risky situations in advance and do everything needed to avoid them, and then also create procedures for when things go wrong anyway.