What outreach or public engagement do you do?
I do talks and demonstrations to elementary, middle and high school students. I also open up my lab for student tours. I am available for TV and radio interviews and have appeared on CTV, CBC and Global as well as the Discovery Channel. I also have an outreach page on wordpress: thescienceneighbour.wordpress.com. My SFU website is www.sfu.ca/aerospacelab
What got you into it?
I enjoy public speaking and in high school I acted in plays that toured public schools and festivals. I also competed in science fairs and found it very rewarding. I see the same enthusiasm for discovery in many of the students I speak to today.
You are a scientist. Did you ever want to be something else?
I also trained to be a middle and high school teacher in biology and physics. I taught these subjects in Ontario.
Which three achievements in your life are you proudest of?
My family, I have a wonderful wife and five incredible children; Becoming a scientist and educator; Inspiring students to achieve their goals ‒ I bumped into a student at the Toronto airport who had taken my night school physics course six years earlier and she said she had enjoyed it so much that when it came to choosing a profession she decided to be a physics teacher as well.
What was your first summer job?
My first summer job was as a sailing instructor.
Which favourite artists/groups/pieces of music do you listen to?
My son Chris is a percussionist and composer. I like to listen to him play the vibraphone and marimba in the basement of our house. He has started a Jazz quartet ‘Audinos’ and their music is amazing. My tastes range, but in classical I like Vivaldi (Four Seasons) and in the area of rock I like Santana.
How do you get to work every day?
I either drive up or park at the bottom of the hill and use the trails to hike up which takes about 30 minutes.
What are your favorite things to do when you aren’t working?
When I am not working, I like to spend time with my family; working with my wife renovating homes or going to my children’s activities. I like to relax at home or the cabin reading or writing science fiction.
If you could meet one famous person for coffee who would it be?
David Suzuki, he was an inspiration to me as a teenager. I convinced a group of fellow students to skip class in grade 12 to go to a public lecture he was giving at a local college. The principal was not happy, but our parents backed us in our decision; now I am a scientist. We saw him, but it would be nice to have coffee and thank him.
Which 5 words would you use to describe yourself?
Curious, passionate, hands-on, meticulous, sharing
What advice do you have for a young person wanting to pursue outreach as a part of a science?
Find something you are passionate about. Figure out how best to demonstrate it and make it hands on; doing is better than showing. Finally: practice, practice, practice and be prepared for any and all types of questions.