Welcome to the Oredigger community, Dr. Kevin Ahrendt! Not only is he new to the Mines community, he is also new to the teaching community. Dr. Ahrendt is beginning his first of six semesters in a post-doctorate teaching position in the Applied Mathematics and Statistics department.
“I just love sharing knowledge,” Dr. Ahrendt said of his reason for choosing the teaching path. Although this is Dr. Ahrendt’s first professional job as a professor, he is by no means new to the mathematics and statistics field.
Dr. Ahrendt has earned three degrees in various fields of mathematics, amassing an impressive ten years at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. Five of Ahrendt’s ten years at Nebraska were as a graduate student where he had the opportunity to gain experience teaching a variety of entry level courses.
He described his opportunity at Mines as his first time being “ultimate authority” in the classroom. Dr. Ahrendt wanted to pursue teaching to encourage his students to adopt a broader appreciation for math.
He stated, “I will sometimes talk about math unrelated to calculus to give you a bigger, broader view… I like giving people an idea of what math can be used for in the real world.”
The feedback he receives from students is one of Dr. Ahrendt’s favorite perks to the job. He loves to see the “light bulb moments” in his students and hear their excitement such as “when you explain it to me this way it makes sense to me now!” However, getting to this point with every student is not always a simple, linear task.
Dr. Ahrendt shared “It’s the challenge [of] trying to find the right approach for each student to make sure they understand the material… that was probably the biggest thing that got me to say ‘I want to go into teaching for sure.’”
“Keep your mind open on what you want to do,” Ahrendt encouraged current students. He began his college career studying to become an electrical engineer. After some time, he decided that was not for him and changed to pre-med to become a doctor. Ahrendt again decided that field was not for him, but luckily he had kept his mind open and taken a broad range of classes. Dr. Ahrendt developed interest in his mathematics classes and found a particular love of tutoring students.
“You have to take care of yourself,” Dr. Ahrendt also advised students. Engineering students in general—Mines students in particular—often immerse themselves so deeply into their studies that they do not take the time to step back and focus on their physical and mental health.
Dr. Ahrendt advised Orediggers to “[Follow] good strategies for keeping good mental and physical health.” One of Dr. Ahrendts biggest challenges going college was managing this balance.
He is involved on campus through the Math Club and is considering potential research opportunities for undergraduate students. In his free time, Dr. Ahrendt enjoys playing the piano and designing and creating items with his 3-D printer.
When asked to sum himself up in one phrase he responded “Perseverance is key.”