Noriene Jee always dreamed of attending the U.
Born in Ogden, Utah, and raised in Davis County, Noriene Jee (BA’83 Mathematics) always knew she wanted to attend the U. While at Clearfield High, she made plans with a friend at Ogden High to apply to the university as roommates. Their plans worked—they both attended the U and are still close friends.
During her undergraduate years, Jee’s favorite math professor was the late Professor Emeritus William J. Coles, who taught a class in differential equations. “I really enjoyed the application aspect of differential equations,” said Jee. “Later I used the math he taught me during my work as a contractor for the Air Force.”
When she wasn’t attending classes or studying, Jee enjoyed skiing and playing golf.
After graduating from the U, Jee began her career working as a rate analyst for Mountain Fuel Supply, which became Questar Corporation (and was acquired by Dominion Energy in 2016). Eventually, she moved on to work as a reliability engineer for TRW Inc., a defense contractor.
While working at TRW she was able to earn a master's degree in statistics from Utah State University. When the defense industry took a downturn, Jee left the company and became a statistician for eight years for the Internal Revenue Service.
Later she returned to TRW, which was acquired by Northrop Grumman in 2002. She worked for Northrop Grumman for 17 years as a quality engineer. With her background in statistics, she was promoted to a quality manager position. By the time she retired, she had served as the Northrop Grumman mission assurance manager for a major program for the Air Force.
Value of a Math Degree
She is grateful for her education at the U. “The mathematics degree gave me the tools and useful skills to work as a reliability engineer and statistician,” she said. “Earlier in my career, statisticians were not as common as they are now, and my education gave me the skills needed to get jobs that provided better opportunities.”
In looking back at her college years, Jee has a few observations. “I didn’t appreciate the value of a mathematics degree as an undergrad. I thought I needed to be an engineer or something that had a descriptive title that led to a job. I took longer than I needed to graduate because I changed my major from engineering to mathematics. I should have just started with the math curriculum. I believe students know the value of a math degree better now since there are so many jobs that require a mathematics or a STEM degree.”
Fortunately, Jee’s daughter listened to her mother and followed a different route. She graduated from the U in 2020 with a degree in mathematics and is currently in a master’s program at Columbia University’s Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science. “People are impressed that my daughter’s University of Utah undergraduate degree gave her the path to go to Columbia,” said Jee.
Jee has two horses and she and her daughter love to go riding. For now, riding may have to wait since Jee is living in New York while her daughter studies at Columbia.