Online Education Mathematics Faculty: Dr. James Baer

Online Education Mathematics Faculty: Dr. James Baer

Online Mathematics Faculty

For nearly a quarter century, Jim’s calculations have contributed to some of NASA’s most important projects. He began working with Lockheed-Martin in 1994, collaborating with a scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab. His job: determine the masses of some of the largest asteroids in the solar system, and characterize their composition and internal structure.

“Companies are already being established to begin developing the technology to mine asteroids,” says Jim. “So I very much hope that, by pinpointing which asteroids might have valuable minerals, my work will eventually help provide the resources to allow humanity to move out into the solar system.”

Why do you enjoy teaching?

“In the classroom, I’m often reminded of my parents, who used education (and very hard work) to escape poverty and send me to college. I know many of my students are attempting to provide their families with a brighter future; and I very much want to help make that happen.

“As adult learners, our students very clearly understand the value of a college education; as a result, they are highly-motivated and genuinely interested in learning.  A teacher couldn’t ask for better students.

“There is literally nothing more satisfying than seeing my students succeed. When I’m working with a student on Zoom, I love seeing the look on their face when they ‘get it.’  Mission accomplished.”

Please share an experience you had as a teacher that was especially memorable.

“It was the first time I used Zoom videoconferencing with a student. Unlike conventional classrooms, you can’t see the expressions on your students’ faces, and you can’t hear the intonations in their voices; thus, all of the non-verbal cues we take for granted simply aren’t available. Moreover, communicating solely by text can be frustrating, especially if students aren’t able to precisely express their questions into words.

“The very first time I worked with a student on Zoom, I said to myself, ‘With this tool, I can really help my students.’ It very nearly reproduces the in-seat classroom environment; we can talk face-to-face in real-time, and even work out solutions on a whiteboard. Most importantly, I can quickly isolate precisely where a student’s problem lies and help them resolve it.”