After graduating Tech in 1959 I enrolled in the Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn (now NYU Tandon School of Engineering). But after a year I realized that engineering was not for me, so I enrolled at SUNY Farmingdale in the Mechanical Technology department. During my summer high school years I worked at machine shops as a tool and die maker’s helper. That did me well at Farmingdale along with the hands-on education I experienced at Tech.
After consulting with my Farmingdale drafting teacher, Mr. Williams, I enrolled at Bucknell University. Bucknell was very vigorous but I was able to take pipe organ lessons, a passion of mine since seeing the organ in the Brooklyn Tech auditorium.
Again I realized that electrical engineering was not for me so left after a year and began work at MiLat Machine and Tool Company, run by my uncle and father. I was a tool and die designer and in charge of the inspection department of one employee. I designed and built several ‘missing parts detectors’ to ensure the safety of the various presses at MiLat. These units would detect if a part was not ejected and would immediately stop the press from making and further parts.
After about six years I heard of a program where I could obtain a provisional certificate of vocational teaching by attending night classes for about two years. I was always very interested in teaching was and, after I completed the program, was offered a job at Sewanaka High School to teach for a year for a teacher on sabbatical. I learned a lot about teaching there and when the year was up accepted teaching position at Northport High School in my hometown.
I was responsible for setting up the machine shop. The government had given Northport many machines that allowed me to teach machining and build many interesting projects with the students.
During my time at Northport, I continued my education nights and summers, attending New York University and SUNY Oswego. I obtained my undergraduate and master’s degree in vocational education and industrial arts.
Besides Machine Shop, I taught Plastics, Solar Energy, Wood Shop, Welding, Electricity, Electronics, Drafting, and other subjects. During my time at Northport, I made my own computer with the Intel 8008 chip. This gave me experience in programming and allowed me to build an eight-foot moving message panel along with several other computer-controlled projects, a Tesla Coil, an EDM machine, and so on. I received several awards from the Industrial Arts Teachers Guild. It was a wonderful ride.
After seven years at Northport I decided to go into industry, landing a job with Applied Data Systems as a mechanical design engineer. It was a stressful two years but I did enjoy the projects and being around computer components. Then, once again, I decided to change my vocation.
I decided that I might try university teaching. I applied to several universities in North Carolina but none were suitable or had jobs available. But a year later Western Carolina University called me for an interview. I fell in love with the mountains and just knew I would get the job. So I moved my wife and two children there and taught Machine Shop, Welding, Woodworking, AutoCad, and other subjects. After twenty years I retired. I have been retired now for 22 years and am still creating as Cinnamon Hill Art and Cinnamon Hill Gelato.
I attended last year’s Homecoming hoping I would see some old friends. Where are you, Bruce Tergerson?
Tech is seared into my memory as one of the best times of my life. Thanks, Tech!