Engineering student re-examines a career in the classroom

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A. Sue Weisler | photographer

Nate Kane was pleased to share his engineering expertise with students at Irondequoit High School. His experience at the school has caused him to reconsider a career in education.

Webster’s definition of education is “knowledge acquired by learning and instruction.”

That description has taken on new meaning for RIT student Nathaniel Kane, thanks to an innovative co-op assignment that allowed him to enhance his own learning while bringing knowledge to others. Kane, a fifth-year microelectronic engineering major in the Kate Gleason College of Engineering, completed a service-learning assignment last spring with Irondequoit High School, where he served as an assistant to physics teacher Thomas Schulte.

Working in senior physics and advanced-placement courses, Kane helped Schulte develop course curriculum, assisted in class lectures and tutored students who needed additional instruction. Kane also used his microelectronics experience to set up several labs for use by the class, including testing of a diode and resistor to illustrate the current-voltage characteristic of the devices. The experience was an excellent opportunity for Kane to apply his own learning experiences in a real-world setting, while also opening up new ideas for his future career path.

“I had never really considered education as a potential profession,” Kane notes. “But I got a lot out of transferring my enthusiasm for a topic to the students and assisting them in furthering their own knowledge. It also helped me better process and understand the instruction I have received at RIT.”

“Nate was an excellent edition to the class and provided a new perspective on the subjects we covered,” adds Schulte, an alumnus of RIT’s microelectronic engineering program. “He is a perfect example of the benefits service learning can provide in enhancing the educational experiences of everyone involved.”

Kane hopes to continue to expand his teaching and mentoring expertise through future opportunities in the College of Engineering and is currently assisting several of his former students who are now freshmen at RIT.

The service-learning co-op with Irondequoit High School is a component of the microelectronic engineering department’s community outreach programs, which seek to enhance engineering education and increase the number of students going into the field. This effort is made possible through a National Science Foundation education grant secured by department chair Santosh Kurinec.

“I am very happy that Nate had such a positive experience, and I hope he serves as a model for other RIT students,” says Kurinec. “Through this type of interaction we can enhance educational programs at all levels and further promote engineering and science to the next generation of students.”