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SLC faculty profile: Steve Kuehl loves math, baseball, movies

Posted On January 24, 2015

Math isn’t the only thing that interests Steve Kuehl.

Baseball books are shelved next to math books in his office at Silver Lake College.

And autographed photos of Detroit Tigers players hang on his walls along with a Spider-Man poster.

“I grew up in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula watching Tigers baseball,” said Kuehl, 28, of Plymouth, who’s a mathematics instructor and department chair. “When I’m not teaching, I’m working on my baseball statistics.”

Kuehl also has a tattoo on his right wrist that reads “infinite.”

While the tattoo is a nod to his profession, it is primarily a tribute to his wife, Kathleen, known as K.C. She has “Love is …” tattooed on her left wrist.

“She enjoys sports and shares my love of baseball,” Kuehl said.

One of his beloved players is Miguel Cabrera, who won the Triple Crown of baseball in 2012, leading the American League in batting average (.330), home runs (44) and runs batted in (139).

“Over a span of about 100 years, only 16 players have done that,” Kuehl said. “He blew everybody’s mind.”

In his free time, Kuehl also enjoys movies, especially those featuring superheroes or complicated plot threads.

Among his favorites this year was “Interstellar,” a science fiction film depicting characters who communicate in binary code and travel into a black hole, emerging to find time appearing as a spatial dimension.

“Movies like that appeal to my analytical side,” Kuehl said.

He grew up in a small town near Escanaba, Mich., and got his math skills from his dad, who worked as a mason and knew the importance of accurate measurements.

“Math was something that came naturally to me starting in elementary school,” Kuehl said. “I had my homework done before class was over.”

He received his Bachelor of Science in Mathematics degree from Michigan Technological University in Houghton.

Kuehl worked as an adjunct instructor of mathematics before obtaining his Master of Arts in Mathematics from Central Michigan University in Mt. Pleasant. Not surprisingly, his master’s thesis focused on baseball statistics.

In the fall of 2013, Kuehl got married and started his job at Silver Lake College — all in the space of a month.

This semester, Kuehl teaches Basic Math, Calculus II, Probability and Statistics, Number Theory and Discrete Math.

The rewarding part of his job is “seeing the students struggle with math and then watching a lightbulb go off,” Kuehl said. “You can see how happy they are when they begin to understand.”

Careers in math are varied, including jobs as different as working for the CIA and code breaking to working for insurance companies or the computer science field.

“The big push in math right now is to get kids to go on to grad school. It opens a lot more doors,” he said. “Whether it be government work or the private sector, you’re much more marketable. Once you have a graduate degree in math, the sky’s the limit. They’ll be fighting over you. It’s a great field to go into.”