Mr. Purucker is A.W. Beattie's Robotics Engineering Technology instructor. We asked him a few questions to learn a little bit more about him. We will feature another staff member next week.
What was your first job?
Newspaper delivery boy, for real!
Why did you become a Robotics teacher?
I’ve been interested in robotics since I was in grade school, and I thought about being a teacher as early as graduate school. Even during my robotics engineering days, I gravitated toward roles that involved customer training and the collection and distribution of information. It’s satisfying to me to be able to combine what had once been two fairly distinct areas of interest into one coherent enterprise.
What do you enjoy most about the Robotics field?
I enjoy the process of integrating knowledge from different disciplines - electrical, mechanical, pneumatics, coding and more - and using that combined understanding to creatively solve challenging problems. Complex robotics systems typically require collaboration and interaction among many individuals, with the added benefit of helping everyone involved in the solution learn from each other.
What do you feel is the key to teaching?
I don’t think there is a single key to teaching, but the two roles I attempt to fill are:
SHERPA: Do my best to relate to where the students are currently positioned, both in terms of their knowledge and along their career path, and teach where THEY are, not where I would like them to be
PYROMANIAC (i.e., set the students on fire for my field): Cultivate a lifelong love of learning by demonstrating the authentic passion I have for robotics and engineering
What can you be found doing when you’re not teaching?
During FIRST Robotics season, I can be found sleeping. The rest of the year, I’m watching my sons play soccer, basketball, or their trumpet/French horn, volunteering, working on a Lionel train display, or trying to convince my wife that we really need a custom electronic scoreboard, an arcade cabinet based around a PlayStation 4, and so forth.
What is your favorite TV show or movie?
I cannot turn off any old episodes of Psych, the X-Files, or Phineas & Ferb.
What activities are at the top of your bucket list?
Visit Normandy in France and see tennis matches at Wimbledon with my wife.
What can you reveal that people might not expect about you?
I was once a picky eater – and thin!