About Mr. Benson

I grew up in Fargo, North Dakota. My parents were both teachers (my mom was at least a 3rd generation teacher), though my dad had to change careers to pay the bills. As part of his job, we spent a year in Alabama. My 6th grade math teacher that year, Mrs. Thompson, sparked my interest in teaching.

I earned a B.S. in Industrial & Operations Engineering (IOE) and an M.S. in Mathematics from the University of Michigan. I enlisted in the Michigan Air National Guard in college, and after graduation, attended Air Force pilot training. I went on to fly the F-4 Phantom and the F-16 with the 191st Fighter Interceptor Group. I earned my PhD in IOE from the U of Michigan in 1990. Although I'd planned then to become a university professor, I also enjoyed writing software. I put off my teaching plans, became a Smalltalk developer, and went to work on Wall Street.

At J.P. Morgan, I led the development of the bank's market risk management system. I moved to the client-facing risk management group, and led the development of credit risk analytics. I left for a year to work at Greenwich Capital Markets, then returned to the same group to be part of the spinoff of a new technology company, RiskMetrics Group, in 1998.

In 2000, we opened the Ann Arbor office of RiskMetrics Group. Besides writing software, I taught financial risk modeling methods to employees, clients, and students in the financial engineering program at the U of M. In 2010, RiskMetrics was acquired by MSCI, and I left.

I spent a month that summer hiking and kayaking through a National Outdoor Leadership School course in northern Scandinavia with my daughter. NOLS lessons on the principles of expedition behavior helped shape my thinking on tolerating adversity, personal development, and how effective groups work together. I think the same lessons can be applied in the classroom.

I devoted much of my time in 2010-2012 tutoring my high school children in math and science. In 2012, I returned to school myself to become a high school teacher. I was selected to be a Woodrow Wilson Teaching Fellow, and completed the MAC (Master of Arts with Certification) program at the U of Michigan. I completed my teaching internship at Ypsilanti High School, teaching algebra, physics, and calculus. I have endorsements in math, physics, and computer science. I taught for two years at FlexTech High School in Brighton, MI.

My wife Heidi and I have three children and two dogs.