Every school year brings new classes and new teachers, including Dr. Robert Racicot, who was recently hired as a full time lecturer. His witty comments and frequent demos keep chemistry class exciting while still getting across all the required content. He received his bachelor’s degree in Chemical Engineering and also studied theatre arts at the University of Massachusetts which, as he put it, “Are the most bizarre extremes of majors, but I didn’t become an actor so now I can act in the lecture hall.” After that he received his master’s degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of Florida followed by his doctorate in Chemistry from the University of Rhode Island.
Racicot got his start in teaching in the early nineties while in the Air Force. He was offered an opportunity to teach at the US Air Force Academy and when he applied he got the job. “I went there to try teaching and I loved it, and I’ve been teaching ever since,” he says. He came to Mines after falling in love with Golden when his son started here last year. He explained, “I told the chemistry department, ‘Hey I could just do a part time thing, or anything you need,’” and he wound up here at Mines.
Racicot’s favorite part of his job here is lecturing. He explained, “I am really happy that the department is very demo friendly.” His lectures are full of explosions and fire which keep students awake and having fun in class. “I still try to make sure I teach the subject matter to the students but I like to do a lot of demos, it’s a lot of fun.” While living in Colorado Springs he did chemistry magic shows for elementary school students. He said, “I want to develop that here and start doing them around the Golden area.”
His goal in the course is to make chemistry fun. “Too many students come here with terrible high school chemistry experiences, either because the teachers weren’t qualified or they just didn’t have the resources to make it a good program.” He went on, “My ultimate goal here is to have a student leave the course saying, ‘I really enjoyed chemistry, that was a lot of fun and I learned some stuff.’ That would be great.” And Racicot is definitely succeeding making chemistry fun for students from every major.