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My purpose as a teacher is not to impart knowledge, but to guide students in the discovery of their own understanding.

As an accomplished engineer and educator, I have a diverse career history and experience that – combined with my formal education – has successfully aided me in developing educational programs that instruct, encourage, and motivate future technology minded students. I teach students the design process through PLTW engineering classes and FIRST as well as VEX Robotics competitions.

Skills Summary

Teaching Areas and Subjects of Certification


Maker Educator

The creation of physical artifacts in a community of learning helps student's better understand the world around them. I have experience managing and designing makerspace environments for over 7 years. In these spaces I teach students modern and classic manufacturing skills including: 3D printing, laser cutting, wood working, textile skills, and metal work. As well as the safe use of tools and equipment. 


Robotics Coach

9 years of experience mentoring FIRST Tech Challenge, VEX Robotics Challenge, and VEX IQ Challenge Robotics Teams. Guiding diverse students to build the best robots they can with sound design and functional coding skills.


Biology & Physics Certification

Leveraging my formal education, with a bachelors of science in biomedical engineering and a masters of science in industrial engineering with a focus on mechanical systems I earned my certifications in these subjects. I believe students with a sound understanding of the physical world around them can create solutions for tomorrow's problems. 

Learning Philosophy

     My theory of learning is witnessed through two lenses that I cannot feasibly separate: that of me as a learner and my own experience, and that of me as a teacher and how I run my engineering classroom. 

Creating a Community is Key to Learning

     There is one conversation that I always recall when I think about my learning. I was walking down the stairs when a more experienced teacher was walking up the opposite way. She and I would always speak about more philosophical things, for example, she taught aesthetics and form versus function to my engineering students with a lesson on high heels. Always a smash hit with the entire class. On this day we were probably talking about teaching techniques, or qualms with grading, and I remember clearly saying “I think the apprenticeship model of education is the best way to go.” That one sentence has resonated with me every other year I have practiced this profession and I believe it to this day.

     Though this model of education does still exist, at the K12 level, it is far from the truth. The closest method of reaching this is either teaching a workshop class, or a class with project-based learning as its core pedagogy. In these classes, with a core concept as the guide to a lesson a community of practice is built among the students and the teacher/facilitator. Once that trust and language is built true learning can occur with all parties present. How students construct their knowledge may show gaps to the teacher where their knowledge or inflexibilities in their thinking were present. Through this mutual building of understanding, and the interactions and minor nudges from the mentor figure in the learning relationship concepts are truly constructed in the minds of all parties present.

     This building of community expands outwards from the singular classroom to larger spaces, tracks, clubs, and departments in a school. Though more common in the university setting, small learning communities are built within departments through students of different ages taking similar classes or going on similar tracks. Personally, the small learning communities I built, studying for exams, discussing problems, and building artifacts related to our learning are the memories that are fixed in my mind. I am seeing and fostering this pattern of learning in my practice with my students and seeing them learn in similar ways through our school maker space. Seeing students discuss projects from their past with others situated in a class they were taking before. Discussing successes and failures and sometimes even sharing skills that other students have not obtained yet. Conversation in classroom vernacular, succinct and clear, is my biggest sign of this.

Authentic experiences lead to authentic learning.

       Instilling an endless set of facts into memory does not lead to a student retaining knowledge. I believe we have all had the educational experience where one memorized a set of facts, took an exam, and forgot the knowledge immediately afterward. On the other hand, I also believe we all have the experience of working on a project, proposal, after school activity, or idea that we are passionate about. All the information learned in the active process of figuring this problem out is rarely forgotten. 

       To make a student truly learn, they need to care about what they’re doing. As a teacher I believe it is my job to create these experiences in the classroom. First learning what is relevant in my student’s lives then trying to understand what those things are to the best of my ability. Using this information, I then expose my students to activities and opportunities tied to my content

matter and giving them a reason to care about what they are learning. These new activities are completely different from a worksheet or regular assessment. The activities are attached to the real-world giving relevance to the topics being learned and therefore leading to more retention.

Creating community cultivates curiosity.

     In both of my teaching positions I have had the blessing of overseeing the coordination of an entire program. In its infancy, this does not affect much of student learning and engagement. But over the years, as different students move through the courses, gain experience and skills, and learn the other students that take the classes with them, a small community is born. Students build their own language, skillset, social norms, and even clothing styles. But more importantly when it comes to learning, older students begin mentoring younger students either through design or just holistically. The creation of this community leads to conversations, and an openness to try new things among the students. Eventually, authentic ideas such as a robot to flip hamburgers, a aquaponics lab with “cool” fish that grows potatoes to feed the hungry, or a heads up display for a firefighter to know if they are entering a toxic environment are born. 

The right space leads to the right opportunity.

     Opportunities like those I just mentioned are excellent and living in the minds of every student. However, if they are not given the resources to make these ideas come to life, these ideas never see the light of day. The great problem in this comes with providing access to these resources and creating confidence in people to use what is available to them and bring these ideas to life. To help my students discover their knowledge one of my missions as an educator is to make more spaces where students can explore and learn authentically in community. Then when working in these spaces making them inclusive to all students that interact with them. 

Teaching Philosophy

I am currently in my ninth-year teaching, at the K-12 level.  having facilitated courses such as Biology, Physical Science, Introduction to Engineering Design, Principles of Engineering, Robotics, Digital Electronics, and Engineering Design and Development. Through all these courses I have used a project-based, student-centered pedagogy. I consistently try to improve my craft using the same design process I teach the students to use in their work. I am also whole heartedly a maker educator, and I have the belief that students learn best by creating artifacts to support their learning. Through these years, there have been a few pillars I focus my work on. 

Teaching Artifacts

Sample lesson: Restructuring the Spaghetti Challenge

Target age: Grades 6-12

Learning Goals: Understanding of the design process. Understanding of the importance of prototyping

NGSS Standards Applied: MS-ETS1-3 - Analyze data from tests to determine similarities and differences among several design solutions to identify the best characteristics of each that can be combined into a new solution to better meet the criteria for success.

The Rationale

Target Learner

The Lesson

     The “Spaghetti Marshmallow Challenge” is a widely used activity in design-based schools and programs. This challenge was originated by Tom Wujec and adapted by many different design institutions including the at Stanford (Raz, 2021). The purpose of the lesson is to teach prototyping and iterative design to beginners of design thinking.

            Prototyping is important in design thinking because it create a tangible form of your idea to test and validate. Before receiving proper training, students will often just turn in one prototype that leads to concept failure and negative returns for a project. So, practice in this skill is needed to be taught and developed to beginners of design thinking.

     The Spaghetti challenge does this through a method where the participants fail in doing an iterative design by trying to deliver the best design in one go. Through this failure, participants are supposed to learn that prototyping is good. If the TED talk (Wujec, 2010) is used in the lesson, it shows the participants that kindergarteners have the natural propensity to prototype while business majors do not. The video also implies that now with the knowledge of this behind them, participants will be more likely to succeed in any ventures they follow. I question whether this method is appropriate for educating people in this topic and there may be a similar but better method to follow.

     The target learner has little to no design experience in their repertoire and the concept of iterative design must be novel to them. If the learner does not fall under these criteria, the lesson is of too low a level though it can be used as a refresher or activity to act as an ice breaker for team development. The learner must want to do some sort of design based or career, in this instance robotics, and be aware that prototyping will assist them in the completion of their project goals.

Lesson Timeline

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     The activity done with this lesson is immaterial, it can be done with any common, modified, or novel design challenge. In this case, we will be doing a modified aluminum foil boat challenge. Students will be given a short lesson on the design process. After this the challenge will be presented. 

    Students will be given a set of low cost supplies (Dollar Tree is your friend!) and assigned or allowed to choose groups/pairs. Once these groups have been chosen the challenge will be defined. Build a boat that can hold x number of weighted object (in this case marbles). 

     Once the challenge has started the students will be given a time limit, 20 minutes, where there is a secret 5 minute testing phase in the middle. Students will be allowed to plan, build, and ideally be testing their prototype. But, not be expected to. Ten minutes into the process the class will be paused and students will receive a mini lecture on prototyping and be asked to test their boats. If any are failing they are to take note of their design flaws and asked to try again! 

      Post challenge the students will be asked to complete a worksheet on their successes, failures, and what they learned from the iterative process of their design. This rectifies the failure forward model of the marshmallow challenge. 

Lesson Accompanying Presentation 

Reflections for Growth


Planned interventions lead to greater success.

     Though planned failure is a tool to push a lesson forward, the inability to redeem oneself completely goes against an asset-based framework. The greatest weakness of the marshmallow challenge is just that, it is a pump-fake lesson. Just like a quarterback in football, pretending to pass in one direction and instead passing to another. It guides students down a path to failure and allowing that sting to teach the lesson. This version of the lesson, instead, drives the student to work on the design process. Then, at a moment when there is plenty of time to fail and redeem oneself, an intervention is presented: test your product. Some students will be ready and succeed at this initial test, others will fail, but at this point, now they know. This knowledge will lead to a better design, and then when assessment is drawn at the end you are to see if the students understood the value of iterative design. Which in this case all students said that the lesson goals came through clearly. 

If there was a weakness in the lesson it was the indirect method of teaching vocabulary. Some students asked questions for clarifications to jargon that was being used And instead of using the time early in the lesson to create a singular vocabulary I taught through that to get to the required activty. More time spent in this would have been beneficial to both students and me as a teacher. I believe that creating community is the best way to enhance learning. One of the cornerstones of this process is just that, building a common vocabulary to learn with. 


A well planned lesson manages a classroom more efficiently.

     I will be the first to admit, that my greatest weakness as an educator is keeping a classroom running like a well oiled machine. A sort of controlled chaos is the methodology of my classroom, and though this does help greatly in creating a classroom community. It does not always lead to a pretty picture for the observer or an equitable system for all learners, especially those easily stimulated. Sometimes, this is due to the free flowing nature of my classes and curriculum. I try to make the classroom student-centered to the highest degree where sometimes the reins slip a little too far in the student's favor. 

     This previous lesson, although done to a well comported crowd (graduate students pretending to be 6th - 8th graders) kept timing and management simple. From personal experience, if the same lesson was given to a crowd of the appropriate age the allure of some of the testing materials (a vat of water) may be too much to resist.

     Two major ideas will keep this lesson from going wrong: strong time constraints and small groups. Time constraints, while still emphasizing the process over the product keep students from acting out due to possible failure. Short time periods keep students focused, while still looking to succeed. The addition of an intervention in the middle of the lesson allows for students to be pulled back into focus while maintaining the lesson's theme. Small groups allow for efficient division of labor, and just enough hands to finish the project without lallygagging. 


Keep learning goals simple, but plan activities to be multifaceted.

    The active learning of the design process lesson is one that is interesting because the only true constraints you have with your activity are the time and materials you are able to find as a teacher. However, this same freedom, if used properly leads to the possibility of mapping an introductory lesson to bigger learning goals in the class and leading to a less disjointed course outline.

     For example, this lesson was done doing a "will it float" challenge. Where students were asked to create a boat that would carry a set payload. This lesson works beautifully with the current goals of teaching the design process as well as showing the importance of iteration on your design.

     It also leads to a secondary benefit: linking to greater lessons in physical science. The lesson can link directly to topics such as forces, buoyancy, materials science among others. Swapping out the activity can open the door to any other principals in all the subjects if done correctly and thoughtfully by the teacher. I think this could be one of the biggest benefits of changing from the simple marshmallow challenge to something bigger. 

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