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Ben Smith

An approachable and unconventional director who sees the value in STEM fields beyond the classroom.

Approachable | Invested | Unconventional
As a first-generation college student from a rural, low-income background, Ben Smith took a nontraditional path to his current post on the Hill. Over the years, he started a private tutoring company, designed a curriculum, and taught math. He worked at the State University of New York, providing academic advising and tutoring support to first-generation, low-income students. He then served as director of the Quantitative and Symbolic Reasoning Center at Hamilton College, splitting his time between helping students accomplish their goals in STEM and teaching and assisting other faculty members in refining their courses. In addition to his work at the STEM Center, Smith also teaches Mathematical Foundations and Quantitative Peer Tutoring.
What is the STEM Center, and how does it fit into McDaniel?
The STEM Center is the newest academic resource and community hub for the sciences and quantitatively rich disciplines. The STEM Center allows students to take a deeper dive into all aspects of the sciences. After a soft launch of virtual services, the STEM Center will have its grand opening in its physical space on the second floor of Hoover Library in fall 2021 and will be open six days per week providing tutoring, workshops, and faculty development opportunities.
Why is STEM important?
Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics underlie almost every aspect of modern society. From infrastructure to the phones in our pockets, modern medical advances to pop music, STEM and scientific processes are present. It’s crucial that everyone has a working understanding of what the scientific method is, and what science can and can’t say. To truly engage as globally conscious citizens, scientific and quantitative literacy is an absolute must.
What is the most rewarding part about being the director of the STEM Center and serve as a lecturer? Does one influence the other?
My true passion in education is in the informal tutoring environment. In a small group or one-on-one, I can eschew formal lesson plans to reach the students wherever they are and, together with them, help develop their understanding. As a lecturer, I cannot help but bring this approach into the classroom. Seeing how students engage with learning assistants and each other helps me better understand how they think and feel about their studies. That feeds into what I do every day as director of the STEM Center: help students make connections and leaps to concepts that seem impossible.

About Prof. Smith

Director of the STEM Center and Lecturer 
Subject: Mathematics
Department: Mathematics & Computer Science

Outside of the Classroom


He enjoys barbecuing. A charcoal grill is better than a gas grill, in his opinion.


He loves disc golf.


He and his wife are avid, competitive dancers, traveling across the country to compete in West Coast Swing.