Assistant Professor, Advanced Manufacturing Technologies
There are people whom you meet that can drive you to change your perspective. A chance meeting can cause oneself to reflect on a possible new direction and inspire a career. It happened in the fall of 1999 when my life changed. I decided to return to college and complete a degree after my then-spouse decided to leave me with my two daughters. I felt compelled to return to college so I could set both a good example for my children and provide for them financially.
It was in MECH150 (Advanced Machining) that I caught my stride in education and began a new path in my life. The professor realized very quickly that I was over-qualified for the class and approached me to ask that I be his class assistant rather than student. I was assigned to the CNC (Computerized Numerical Control) area which matched up with my work experience and it was within this group of advanced students that I met Dennis.
Dennis was an excellent machinist but lacked CNC experience. Once we began working in the automated machining area he gravitated to me quickly with a strong desire to learn this new technology. Dennis was a stand out. He had a desire to learn and wanted to know how to apply this new knowledge. We decided that to understand, program, set-up and run a CNC machine we needed to create something not done before at the College.
In what became an entire new curriculum it was decided to make a product. We began by designing a Chess Set, complete. What drove Dennis and I was the effort and collaboration. Our class time went fast. 4-hour classes seemed to disappear and seldom seemed long enough for the task.
It was this first teaching moment that drove my career path. I successfully completed my degree and began teaching at work and created a company curriculum for new employees to follow.
I can only imagine how many chess sets have been made since that time in class. I do know they are still a highlight of the advanced CNC program. Dennis and I are friends to this day. We often talk about that time in college and he credits me with his success not only in that class, but in his career overall. My ongoing inspiration, the drive to teach, improve others, and continual excitement in learning all stem from this early college experience. I have run into many other “Dennis” types since that time, I can only hope to inspire them in the same dramatic way as my career progresses and prospers.