Sam He Is!

Sam He Is!

Meet DPEA’s Newest Teacher, Sam Ridgeway

Sam Ridgeway, a DPEA alum, has joined the faculty to assist with the robotics team, among other duties. We spoke with Sam to get some insight about his past experiences, as well as his future plans with Robotics and DPEA.

You were in the DPEA graduating class of 2008; what are your fondest memories of Robotics during that year and what were the most important things that you learned from Robotics?

My fondest memory would probably be winning the LA regional. I was the co-driver for the robot and we were underdogs against the team that won LA the previous year. Going into a tie-breaker match, we barely bested them for the win. "We Are the Champions" began playing and the entire team rushed from the bleachers onto the field. It was our first regional win ever and it meant that we qualified for the championship in Atlanta. Robotics that year really reinforced for me the importance of putting in as much time as it takes to get the job done. To get the robot anodized, for instance, another student and I stayed up all the way through the night sanding each part of the robot with several grades of sandpaper to have it ready by the morning.

While attending UCLA, did you plan to become a teacher after graduation? What caused you to choose teaching as your career, and specifically, what made you decide to come back to DPEA as a teacher?

I certainly had no intentions of becoming a teacher while at UCLA. After graduating, I began considering grad school while working on start-up ideas that were typically more computer-science-oriented. To give back to the program, I decided to help mentor Team 1717 that year. Given that I had more time than any other mentor to invest into the program, I practically ended up living at the academy. My choice to come back this year is largely based upon the impact that I felt I was able to have on my students. I had a blast with last year’s group and I have high hopes for this year as well.

What are some of your hopes/ fears/ thoughts for this year's Robotics season? Also, any thoughts on the Mechatronics project that will take place next year?

I am certain that, having learned lessons from the previous year, this year will be even better. The Mechatronics installation is an incredibly exciting project that has great potential. Speaking from personal experience, I hope that the construction of the installation goes smoother than the creation of the reveal animation!

Any ideas of the direction that the DPEA will take in future years?

I'm sure in coming years the DPEA will continue along the path that it always has in pursuing new and better ways to educate teenagers. How exactly this path will manifest in terms of tangible projects remains to be seen, but I am sure that the DPEA will certainly continue taking strides towards its goal.