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Old 26th January 2020, 04:23 PM   #1
wasapi
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Did a pivotal class or a teacher change your direction?

Many students don't know what career direction to take, and some know well in advance what they want to do as a profession. However, sometimes a topic comes up in the classroom that sparks interest. Or, something a teacher says or quotes, that causes you to feel a connection.

These are pivotal moments. I am wondering if anyone has had an experience that led you to an occupation you had not previously considered.

When I went back to college as an adult, I took some pre-law classes thinking perhaps I would train to be a paralegal. In one evening class we had a guest speaker. The speaker was a private investigator, on the job for several years. I listened to every word she said. It was obvious that she loved her job.

That was it for me. I approached her after her lecture. She remained a mentor for a long time.

Anyone else influenced?
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Old 26th January 2020, 05:05 PM   #2
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If anything, in the opposite direction. The way they taught history in school was -- and from my understanding it is worldwide -- apparently designed to bore everyone out of their little minds. Just lists of years and names to memorize. It wasn't until way after college that I started to read the more serious version and I'm like, "wow, this is fun. Why didn't they teach us THIS stuff?" I might have gone and studied history if they didn't go and bore me out of my tiny little skull with it in school.
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Old 26th January 2020, 05:07 PM   #3
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When I went from primary to secondary school (at the age of ten) I was welcomed by a "German" teacher who made us write comparisons of the way tabloids and local newspapers were treating current events. It was eye-opening and made me a skeptic for life. The man stayed to be one of my teachers until I left school with Abitur, and I have been very nasty and unfair towards him while going through puberty. I haven't thought about that for a long time and would really like to see him again and tell him my side of what must have been quite confusing to him.
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Old 26th January 2020, 05:14 PM   #4
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A book, How to Travel and Get Paid for It, resulting in me going into nursing.

And the leader in a critique group taught me how to write fiction.
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Old 26th January 2020, 05:19 PM   #5
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Not professionally, no. But I took an elective History of Science class in college which gave me a lifelong interest in that area. "Science", of course, should be interpreted as "Science and Technology".
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Old 26th January 2020, 06:59 PM   #6
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I discovered how incompetent I was at organic chemistry (for medicine) and mathematics for the hard sciences so I took the "easy" way out and went for engineering. I knew I couldn't blame the instructor forever. I just wasn't ready for that level of effort.
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Old 26th January 2020, 07:15 PM   #7
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For me, school was a nightmare, like being trapped in a cage full of poo-flinging monkeys.

Some teachers really do stand out.

In first year High School, a Humanities teacher lent me a copy of Kenneth Clarke's "Civilisation" to read so that I'd have something to do.

Later an English teacher introduced me to Shakespeare and Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, and a drama teacher to Constantin Stanislavski's "An actor prepares."

While these things weren't sufficient to keep me in High School, they were openings to a much more interesting life.

Later in life, I attended (and taught at) a couple of universities... that was a MUCH better experience.
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Old 26th January 2020, 07:40 PM   #8
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I had never even heard of the field that I went into after college, although it is fairly ubiquitous.
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Old 26th January 2020, 08:10 PM   #9
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I entered college with a boatload of credits from AP classes that got me out of most of the liberal arts curriculum. That is, except for 3 math credits. Now, there was no way in the world I was ever taking math again. I looked through the course catalogue and there was a course in logic that fulfilled my 3 math credits. It was Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 8:30 am, which is an ungodly hour for college students. However, it wasn't math.

Little did I know that this ridiculously early course - with all sorts of squiggles and arrows and p's and q's - would actually give names to the mistakes I saw in arguments all around me. What had been just a grinding headache every time I heard some lunatic political discussion in my dorm room now could be categorized and rebutted.

I wish I remembered the professor's name. I'd send him a card. But my eventual work as a lawyer was probably more affected by that class than by any single class in law school.
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Old 27th January 2020, 01:15 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by Loss Leader View Post
I entered college with a boatload of credits from AP classes that got me out of most of the liberal arts curriculum. That is, except for 3 math credits. Now, there was no way in the world I was ever taking math again. I looked through the course catalogue and there was a course in logic that fulfilled my 3 math credits. It was Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 8:30 am, which is an ungodly hour for college students. However, it wasn't math.

Little did I know that this ridiculously early course - with all sorts of squiggles and arrows and p's and q's - would actually give names to the mistakes I saw in arguments all around me. What had been just a grinding headache every time I heard some lunatic political discussion in my dorm room now could be categorized and rebutted.

I wish I remembered the professor's name. I'd send him a card. But my eventual work as a lawyer was probably more affected by that class than by any single class in law school.
I'll second that sentiment.

My work as a systems analyst has benefited more from the logic and philosophy courses I took, than the computer science courses.

At my uni, they were so overwhelmed by lawyers who wanted to learn rhetoric, they withdrew the subject.
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Old 27th January 2020, 10:38 AM   #11
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Not a teacher. My epiphany occurred when I borrowed an abacus and book about it from a library just before starting the 7th grade. Prior to that I hated the drudgery of arithmetic and was always the slowest one doing arithmetic in class. Very quickly I discovered how tables of logarithms and the abacus could speed up arithmetic involving multiplication and division. From there I found the theory of logs and exponents fascinating. Went on to understand natural logs, trig functions and such all of which fell in place and seemed very intuitive. I depended on the local and school library for books about things of interest. By the next year I started learning the basics of calculus. All very intuitive but nothing in school classes was significant.

Would have been much easier these days with the internet and fast access to info. There's probably many more kids taking the path I did.
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Old 27th January 2020, 10:42 AM   #12
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No. I don't want to demean teachers but I, and I'd wager most all students, never have that "Lean on Me / Dead Poets Society" teacher. That's mostly Hollywood mythology.

I had good teachers, teachers I liked, teachers I respected, teachers that had passion for the job but... that's it. And I don't say that flippantly but I do say it with some context.

I had plenty of good teachers. But "touched my life" Hallmark movie teachers? No. Not really if we're being 100% honest.
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Old 28th January 2020, 02:07 AM   #13
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My 4th year English teacher who instead of switching my brain off with more mind-numbing Wordsworth (who did write some good stuff I know but not on the curriculum and not helped by crashingly dull teachers) brought in a recording of Richard Burton reading Dylan Thomas and suddenly I got it. My education remained focussed on the sciences but I have a shelf of poetry books.
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Old 28th January 2020, 06:43 AM   #14
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Oh, we had fun teachers, even teachers which everyone loved. Like, we had this older physics teacher in high school who always illustrated it in fun ways, had interesting anecdotes, etc. I can tell you NOBODY skipped that guy's class, NOBODY disrupted it or anything. For a class full of teenagers just discovering that they have hormones, and that the girl across the aisle has boobs, and that their status depends more on gangsta image than on grades, etc, keeping them actually paying attention to the teacher should count as an achievement. That guy deserved a big gold cup.

... Also nobody remembered anything else than the funny stories and anecdotes. You could ask someone the ideal gas equation right in the break after he taught us that, and nobody would have a flippin' clue, but they could tell you the interesting story the teacher had about it.

TBH I probably appreciated him the most, because I had already learned that stuff at least two years in advance, and he sure didn't bore me.

I don't think he actually inspired anyone to go into physics, though.

Well, I was planning to, but that was way before meeting this guy. And it went away when I discovered that a good electronics university was within comfortable public transportation range from where I lived, whereas a good physics one was quite far away. Science be damned, I had my own room and all the cats I could rescue where I lived
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Old 28th January 2020, 07:07 AM   #15
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Old 28th January 2020, 07:24 AM   #16
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My teachers provided by demonstration excellent encouragement to not go into education as a profession.
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Old 28th January 2020, 07:29 AM   #17
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Also, if we're being 100% honest, outside of one or two weird off cases (like the football coach who was also the biology teacher who didn't think either dinosaurs or the Holocaust ever happened....) all the "bad" teachers who stuck it out in my brain where obviously trying to be the Lean on Me/Dead Poet's Society teachers... at the expense of them actually teaching.

I guess I'm just more on the "It's your job to provide me an education, not become my mentor" lane of teaching.

I've just always been the guy who wondered what was gonna happen when those kids in Dead Poet's Society got around to getting tested on whatever part of the book Keaton had them tear out for reason of "Carpe Diem."
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Old 28th January 2020, 07:36 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by JoeMorgue View Post
Also, if we're being 100% honest, outside of one or two weird off cases (like the football coach who was also the biology teacher who didn't think either dinosaurs or the Holocaust ever happened....) all the "bad" teachers who stuck it out in my brain where obviously trying to be the Lean on Me/Dead Poet's Society teachers... at the expense of them actually teaching.

I guess I'm just more on the "It's your job to provide me an education, not become my mentor" lane of teaching.

I've just always been the guy who wondered what was gonna happen when those kids in Dead Poet's Society got around to getting tested on whatever part of the book Keaton had them tear out for reason of "Carpe Diem."
It always seemed to me that the adults who most thought they got kids and thought they were liked by kids were the least liked and most clueless about kids. Probably a deeper lesson about skepticism their.

Edit, I had a number of teachers that taught be a deep seated contempt for teachers.

5th grade, he was stupid, which I shouldn't have realized at 10.

7th/8th grade home room/math/elective teacher, she told myself and another student that we didn't have to do homework because we were doing so well and weren't doing our homework anyway. Halfway through the year she called in our parents on account of us not doing our homework even more, at which point she didn't realize I was in 3 of her classes.

8th grade history, she clearly hated kids.

9th grade science, lectured us all on being lazy for doing so poorly on her first test but also wondered why every year was the same.

German teacher for 8/9/10, was amazed at my performance on a test written by whatever national german teachers orgnanization there is when I got about 60% on a test meant for first year german students after I had taken 5 years of German. I forgot almost as much in the last three as I learned in the first two.

12th grade, the guy who announced at the beginning of the year, "I know I'm boring, so try and stay awake."

Last edited by ahhell; 28th January 2020 at 07:44 AM.
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Old 28th January 2020, 07:49 AM   #19
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Originally Posted by JoeMorgue View Post
Also, if we're being 100% honest, outside of one or two weird off cases (like the football coach who was also the biology teacher who didn't think either dinosaurs or the Holocaust ever happened....) all the "bad" teachers who stuck it out in my brain where obviously trying to be the Lean on Me/Dead Poet's Society teachers... at the expense of them actually teaching.

I guess I'm just more on the "It's your job to provide me an education, not become my mentor" lane of teaching.

I've just always been the guy who wondered what was gonna happen when those kids in Dead Poet's Society got around to getting tested on whatever part of the book Keaton had them tear out for reason of "Carpe Diem."
The worst is the college professor who decides he's going to be the cool one. My college had "Papa Joe". I avoided him and his classes like the plague.
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Old 28th January 2020, 02:13 PM   #20
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I remember a couple of years ago my thermodynamics professor was discussing refrigerants and said off hand about global warming

"...not the biggest problem in the world...certainly real though"

Student in front of me turned to a friend eyebrows raised. He was renowned for his teaching style and very well liked.
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Old 4th February 2020, 07:18 AM   #21
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My teacher in my last year of primary school was pivotal.

I couldn't read until I was seven and gained the reputation of being a bit thick. I played up to this and went through doing the minimum.

Right from the first homework I handed in to him he said "Do it again and do it properly". He added that he was going to be hard on me and expect the best from me. So I shocked everyone by topping the class all the time.

He went on to manage the Scottish national football team but, although they had some success, couldn't manage the same trick with them.
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Old 4th February 2020, 07:43 AM   #22
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Originally Posted by Robin View Post
My teacher in my last year of primary school was pivotal.

I couldn't read until I was seven and gained the reputation of being a bit thick. I played up to this and went through doing the minimum.

Right from the first homework I handed in to him he said "Do it again and do it properly". He added that he was going to be hard on me and expect the best from me. So I shocked everyone by topping the class all the time.

He went on to manage the Scottish national football team but, although they had some success, couldn't manage the same trick with them.
Well, does the Scottish national football team actually need to read? I bet they can get interns to handle that.
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Old 4th February 2020, 07:50 AM   #23
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One of my engineering professors told a story of a former student who ruined his career by asking for a minor bribe on some project he was working on. It also kept him from going to the law school he wanted to attend after losing his engineering career. The lesson he intended, and the lesson I took away: make sure the bribe is worth your entire career, and maybe your back up career.

No one has ever offered me that kind of bribe, so I have an untarnished history in that regard thanks to this one professor reminding me the importance of proper pricing.
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Old 4th February 2020, 05:02 PM   #24
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Originally Posted by TragicMonkey View Post
Well, does the Scottish national football team actually need to read? I bet they can get interns to handle that.
Most of them needed to read to earn a living.

But I am guessing that he got the position for his experience of being a star footballer and successful coach rather than a primary school teacher.
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Old 4th February 2020, 07:07 PM   #25
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Originally Posted by Robin View Post
Most of them needed to read to earn a living.

But I am guessing that he got the position for his experience of being a star footballer and successful coach rather than a primary school teacher.
(It was a joke. Your last paragraph in that post was ambiguously worded, it could easily be interpreted to mean your teacher tried and failed to teach the Scottish national football team to read.)
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Old 5th February 2020, 12:50 AM   #26
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Originally Posted by TragicMonkey View Post
(It was a joke. Your last paragraph in that post was ambiguously worded, it could easily be interpreted to mean your teacher tried and failed to teach the Scottish national football team to read.)
I know it was a joke, that was supposed to be a return joke. Didn't come off.
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Old 6th February 2020, 01:26 PM   #27
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I remember having a teacher that was retired military that convinced me to join the military saying it was like a hamburger on wheels. He even wrote me a letter of recommendation. Later he tried to talk me out of it but I was too far gone. That and it seemed that there were a lot of ads in the local socialist paper for the Army. Those influenced me too. I will say that placing tons of ads for the military in leftist papers is still going on today. When I go the the beast inside rag its all ads for the army and border patrol. Gullible is as gullible does.
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Old 6th February 2020, 02:16 PM   #28
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Originally Posted by MinnesotaBrant View Post
I remember having a teacher that was retired military that convinced me to join the military saying it was like a hamburger on wheels. He even wrote me a letter of recommendation. Later he tried to talk me out of it but I was too far gone. That and it seemed that there were a lot of ads in the local socialist paper for the Army. Those influenced me too. I will say that placing tons of ads for the military in leftist papers is still going on today. When I go the the beast inside rag its all ads for the army and border patrol. Gullible is as gullible does.
I'm still stuck on "like a hamburger on wheels".
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Old 6th February 2020, 02:23 PM   #29
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Originally Posted by wasapi View Post
I'm still stuck on "like a hamburger on wheels".
Not a sales pitch that would have pulled you in?
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Old 6th February 2020, 06:11 PM   #30
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The Army life gives you the money to buy hamburgers and to buy a car. Impressive to a 17 year old
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Old 8th February 2020, 12:48 PM   #31
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Originally Posted by wasapi View Post
I'm still stuck on "like a hamburger on wheels".
Something like this only with Hamburgers?

https://www.foxnews.com/food-drink/o...mobile-drivers
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Old 9th February 2020, 12:22 AM   #32
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Originally Posted by Dr. Keith View Post
One of my engineering professors told a story of a former student who ruined his career by asking for a minor bribe on some project he was working on. It also kept him from going to the law school he wanted to attend after losing his engineering career. The lesson he intended, and the lesson I took away: make sure the bribe is worth your entire career, and maybe your back up career.

No one has ever offered me that kind of bribe, so I have an untarnished history in that regard thanks to this one professor reminding me the importance of proper pricing.
A KGB operative offered me money to use my companies phone to call Russia. I agreed but after finding out that it would cost 25 bucks a minute said to him, it costs 25 bucks a minute. We then had a heartwarming chat about corruption and how damaging it is. He was not willing to go 25 bucks a minute and my patriotism was thus saved
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Old 21st February 2020, 03:27 PM   #33
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Well, I don't know if any of them "changed" my direction, but gave me either a deep interest or understanding of their subjects. I remember them all, although not necessarily their names:

English teacher, second year of high school. Made me see the beauty of good writing and prose, and how to put my imagination into words. He didn't last long in a very traditional school environment, unfortunately - his teaching methods were "off syllabus", and he left a year later after having a nervous breakdown. He left his mark, though, and I always think of him when writing.

Biology teacher, Mrs. Noble, last two years of high school. Besides being a MILF (well, at least to some of us pre-pubescent boys in an all boys school), she gave me a thorough understanding of Biology in a gentle encouraging way. She also brought out my artistic side. I still have my notebooks from those classes, and I marvel at the intricately detailed drawings of amoebas, plants, insects, etc. that I did.

Maths teacher, technical college (Electronics). I HATED maths at school, and had a mediocre pass in it at the end of the day. He introduced me to calculus, and his teaching style sort of brought all my previous maths training together and then added LSD. It was literally a mindf*ck - like suddenly solving a Rubik's cube and knowing exactly how you did it. Whether the the half-jack of brandy he used to drink at lunchtime at the strip club across the road had anything to do with it, I'll never know, but SOMETHING worked - I scored 100% for all maths related subjects for the last 3 of the four semesters, and never looked back.

Applied Maths lecturer, Dr. Hahn, second year university (Engineering degree). The subject says it all. Took the staid knowledge and made it work. He taught me that theoretical maths was a tool to be used, not like a sledgehammer but rather a scalpel with an ever-changing blade.

Control Engineering, Dr. Martin Braae, 3rd and final years of my degree. He brought literally everything together for me. Sure, given the subject matter and level of instruction, this was, I suppose, the desired outcome, but the way he did it was exceptional. He had a passion for practical implementation, and had stocked up his labs with the most uncanny contraptions for us to dissect. I did my thesis under his guidance, and won the national prize for the best thesis that year.

Astronomy, Prof. Don Kurtz. I did a filler course in my final year in Astronomy, as I had always had an interest in it. It was tough - you could not miss a single class, and it was at a very inopportune time for me, considering I was doing final year, and spent most of my time away from campus in the second half of the year (40 km away) doing my thesis. I had to travel in every day for those last 6 months for one 2 hour lecture just after lunchtime. I never regretted it. Don was a master lecturer, and I looked forward to every class, which is something I cannot say truthfully for all of the above. I achieved the highest mark in the class, and it was easy doing it. Considering that I hated physics at Uni, and this was physics intensive, that was quite an achievement on his part.

Don came the closest to me making a career change. If I had had the opportunity to study for just one more year, I would have jumped at the chance to finish my degree in Astronomy (besides the Engineering degree). Hell, another year would have allowed me to finish off my Computer Science degree as well!

Unfortunately, my bursar pulled me out of student life before I could do so. This is, to this day, one of my biggest regrets.
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Old 22nd February 2020, 09:45 PM   #34
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Originally Posted by EvilBiker View Post
Control Engineering, Dr. Martin Braae, 3rd and final years of my degree. He brought literally everything together for me. Sure, given the subject matter and level of instruction, this was, I suppose, the desired outcome, but the way he did it was exceptional. He had a passion for practical implementation, and had stocked up his labs with the most uncanny contraptions for us to dissect. I did my thesis under his guidance, and won the national prize for the best thesis that year.

Astronomy, Prof. Don Kurtz. I did a filler course in my final year in Astronomy, as I had always had an interest in it. It was tough - you could not miss a single class, and it was at a very inopportune time for me, considering I was doing final year, and spent most of my time away from campus in the second half of the year (40 km away) doing my thesis. I had to travel in every day for those last 6 months for one 2 hour lecture just after lunchtime. I never regretted it. Don was a master lecturer, and I looked forward to every class, which is something I cannot say truthfully for all of the above. I achieved the highest mark in the class, and it was easy doing it. Considering that I hated physics at Uni, and this was physics intensive, that was quite an achievement on his part.
Interesting and I can relate. My most influential educator was Prof. Middlebrooke who taught a 1 semester grad level course in analog circuits. He was a master at explaining design techniques and showed where to use math effectively on fairly complex circuits. I went to every class (much unlike virtually all my other classes) and loved his lectures. Received an A+. That summer I got a job at a small electronics company as a tech. My first task was to build and test a circuit the engineer there had designed. I used what I learned from that class to first analyze the circuit which showed it didn't meet temp drift specs. So I designed one that did and had 30% fewer parts. My boss made me build the original anyway which I did and it failed the drift specs as predicted so I got to build my design which worked. I got a really good letter of recommendation when my summer job was over and it got me hired on my first interview after college.
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