Helping Students Engineer a
Wednesday, January 30, 2013 10:00 AM
David Bramer has had the itch to be a teacher for more than 20 years. It just took him a long time to make it happen.
Southwestern High School teacher David Bramer helps junior Nicholas Kloss with a project in Bramer’s digital electronics class. (Staff photos by Ken Ritchie/ email@example.com)
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Bramer was faced with a choice in the late 1980's, continue a military career that would eventually send him to school to teach or leave to spend more time with his family.
"That was tough," he said. "When I got done with my assignment, they wanted to send me to Korea. Korea was an unaccompanied tour, meaning I'd have to leave my family behind for a year. My oldest was three and my second was a year-and-a-half. And, I didn't want to go away for a year. That was too much."
Bramer left the service after seven years and ended up getting a job at Dow Corning, a global leader in silicones and silicon-based technology.
"I had a multitude of jobs there," Bramer said. "Not because I moved around, but I mean, because I had opportunity as an engineer. I worked out in the lab, I worked out in the plant, I worked in kind of an office dealing with environmental issues and I actually at the end I ended up in the lab."
Bramer started at Dow Corning in 1991 and continued to work for them for 13 years.
He said that after 13 years, he started to wonder what was next for him.
"I was having a great time in engineering. I mean, it really wasn't that I was having a bad time. I was just coming to a point in my life, where I had been there for 13 years. If I was going to stay much longer, I might as well plan to stay until I retire. I thought, what was I going to be doing over those next 15 years."
Bramer said that while the money was good, he began to realize that there were more important things he could do.
He decided to give up his job to become a high school teacher.
"If you had told me when I just got out of high school that I would be a teacher, I would have looked at you like you were crazy."
Today, he will have been teaching for eight years. He teaches classes in physics, chemistry, principals of engineering, digital electronics and aerospace engineering.
His time as a teacher hasn't come without it's share of sacrifice.
"It's been an adjustment, I can tell you," he said. Despite having to make financial adjustments, Bramer says that his teaching job was worth it.
"To me, this is one of the best jobs in the world."
"I have a blast in the classroom. I love being around the kids. My background in the army and as an engineer has provided so much to it as well," he said.
Bramer says that his time in the army made him much more comfortable as a public speaker, and working at Dow Corning gave him real world experience that helps him connect students to the material he's covering.
He also likes helping and pushing students to find what they like to do now, so that they don't waste time and money once they're out of school.
"I tell them, McDonald's is not the answer guys. Sorry. That's not something that you're going to be satisfied with, or get you where you need to go."
Bramer is also taking the opportunity to push himself. He doesn't see himself working full time for an engineering firm again, so he's striving to become a better teacher.
"I never worked as hard as an engineer as you do as a teacher. You have a class and 20 kids and 20 different perspectives. I have to try to get into their frame of mind. To help them light the fire."