Faculty Awards and Honors

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Dr. Michael Young


Annual Faculty Lecturer 2010-2011

Dr. Michael Young grew up in the East Los Angeles county area and is a proud product of the California educational system. His first step into physics can be traced to his middle school teachers. Somehow, they saw a talent he didn’t. While he was busy riding bicycles, assembling and disassembling “stuff,” and lighting the canyons of Los Angeles on fire (don’t ask), they recommended he be placed in a college preparation physical science class his freshman year of high school. After his first
day at high school, and not being in the same class as his friends, he asked to be transferred from this class to one with all his friends. Luckily for him, the counselors were overworked and could not see him for five weeks. By then, he found that not only was he getting an A, but he loved science because it explained how things worked and was intellectually challenging.

That freshman year, he had two outstanding teachers - one in math and the other in science. Four years later, he had many other outstanding teachers. One teacher, Mr. Edmonson, was his physics and math teacher. Mr. Edmonson not only made math and science fun and active, but correlated it to the real world. After all, Mr. Edmonson had worked on the Manhattan Project. Dr. Young was amazed at how physics applied a few powerful, fundamental concepts to explain a universe of physical phenomena. He entered college, at Point Loma Nazarene University in San Diego California, as a physics, engineering, math, or chemistry major, but quickly ruled the others out, as physics seemed, in his view, far more amazing, engaging, and intellectually challenging.

At college too, he had an astounding set of teachers who made science practical, interesting, challenging, and lively. After finishing his bachelor’s degree in San Diego, he moved back to the Los Angeles area to attend UCLA where again he was fortunate enough to have some more incredible teachers (Can you believe their names were Bert and Ernie?). At UCLA, he completed his M.S. and Ph.D. in physics. Enjoying the applied side of physics, his Ph.D. was a cross discipline study in the field of photonics, or lasers, with both the school of science and the school of engineering.

Dr. Young believes his background gives him a unique perspective for teaching physics at the community college level. First, as were examples to him, he believes physics should be dynamic, entertaining, and practical. Lectures should be delivered with an infectious passion and challenge. Second, his cross discipline studies in both schools of physics and engineering give him the expertise to teach and reach the two major groups in his calculus-based physics classes - the science majors and the engineering majors. And third, attending public schools and growing up in LA County, he has real world dealings and understandings of diverse population groups.

Dr. Young has extensive roots in community activities. He shares his expertise and excitement of physics with elementary school students and their teachers, called “Physics Phun Phridays.” Today’s lecture on molecular motion developed from these visits to kindergarten through sixth grade classes. He also serves on the community advisory budget committee for his local K-12 school district, Ventura Unified. He spends a significant amount of his time and work committed to youth sports programs. He currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Ventura County Track Club Tigres. Also, over the past nine years, he has personally coached 19 youth sports teams from baseball, soccer, track, and basketball. Many of you here today will remember his time raising money for PONY, Protect Our Nations Youth, baseball.

Dr. Young has also taught Sunday School and guided middle school activity nights. Another middle school program was his work with Light-Speed, a two-day NASA sponsored program designed to expose middle school students to science and technology. 

At SBCC, he has served on the Academic Senate and numerous faculty committees such as the ITC and the Compressed Calendar Committee. He has served as Department Chair for over 10 years and chaired ITC. In his early years at SBCC, he was the Faculty Advisor for the Natural Philosophers Club and the Gaming Club.

Surprisingly, Dr. Young never planned a career in teaching. His career goals were always research and development of photonic systems. His first step toward a teaching career started his second year of college. He was“drafted” by the math faculty to teach/tutor for their self-paced, independent study math program. Following that, he was “drafted” by the physics faculty to teach physics labs. Within his first year of graduate school at UCLA, he was promoted to Head Teaching Assistant and directed their program to train incoming teaching assistants. In his second year, he won the “Most Outstanding Teaching Assistant” award. Yet, in spite of all these enjoyable jobs and positive feedback in the area of teaching, his career plans did not change. Late in his graduate school career and at the insistence of some math faculty, he taught his first community college mathematics class. These soon grew into teaching of both math and physics followed by additional teaching jobs at other community colleges. He soon won the “Outstanding Adjunct Teaching Award.” At this point, he decided to continue to teach at the community college level until he was no longer having fun. Twenty years later, he is still saying the same thing, but now doubts if he will ever stop having fun.

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