Santa Clara University


Mentoring Reignites Love for Engineering


After teaching high school geometry for nearly 20 years, Kevin Jordan felt he was dangerously close to answering the age-old student-posed question, “Why do we have to learn this?” with the standard response, “Because we’re having a test on Friday.” So he applied for a summer fellowship with a San Francisco Bay Area program sponsored by IISME—Industrial Initiatives for Science and Math Education—that encourages bringing excitement and relevance to the classroom through industry-education partnerships.

“When I saw that SCU’s Department of Mechanical Engineering had posted an opening for a fellow to come and work with the 2009 Solar Decathlon Team under the direction of faculty project leader and mechanical engineering chair Dr. Tim Hight, the opportunity just leapt off the page at me,” said Jordan. “This project brings all my interests together: engineering, sustainability, solar power, and intelligent design.” Jordan is a long-time proponent of solar energy—as an 8th grader in the 70s, he took 3rd place at his regional science fair with a model of a solar-powered home, so revisiting this area of research was exceptionally rewarding.

“At the beginning of my fellowship, Dr. Hight said engineers experience a joy solving practical engineering problems, and he was absolutely right,” Jordan said. “This experience has been exhilarating; I couldn’t have asked for a better summer!” The fellowship reawakened the excitement and joy of problem solving for the Los Gatos High School teacher, who returns to the classroom ready to pass that eagerness along to his students. “My enthusiasm has never been greater,” Jordan said. “I had gotten to the point where I needed the physical and practical experience to make it real for myself. I needed, from a professional point of view, to see where the knowledge is going.”

“It was great having Kevin here this summer,” said Hight. “His experience with us epitomizes all that IISME seeks to accomplish through the program. He has seen how his teaching at the high school level can inspire future university students to contribute to solving the world’s energy problems through engineering, and that is exactly what we were looking for in participating in this program.”