Written by Keira Geary
There are many changes to SPHS this year. One of these changes includes the new engineering and robotics teacher, Dr. Brackney.
For almost 30 years Dr. Brackney worked as a professional engineer. He worked in the automotive industry, designing engine turbo machinery for a company called Cummins Engine Company. He also taught overseas in New Zealand, at the University of Canterbury. There he taught electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, and robotics. After returning to the states, he worked for the National Renewable Energy Lab – which is one of sixteen labs across the country that is run by the U.S. Department of Energy. The lab he worked in focused on renewable energy, including advancements in solar energy and bio-fuels. He was in the Commercial Buildings Group, which specialized in energy efficiency. Overall, his professional experience comes back to energy efficiency and helping the environment. Whether that be through working on engines and trying to improve fuel economy and reduce tail pipe emissions or working on buildings and making them more energy efficient and comfortable.
Dr. Brackney was educated at the Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology located in the Midwest. There he got his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in mechanical engineering. He got his PhD from Purdue University. Although his degrees were in mechanical engineering, he trained as a control engineer, which is a cross between mechanical, electrical, and software engineering.
This is his first year teaching at SPHS. What attracted him to want to teach high school were the programs and opportunities that were available to his daughter at her STEM school. He was really interested in what she was learning, in terms of robotics projects and computer programming. He was also at the point in his career where he had accomplished a lot of different things in different industries. Although he taught at the University level, he spent most of his time doing research and publishing papers and less time working with the students. Coming to SPHS, the high school level gives him the opportunity to work alongside students and work with the cutting-edge technology, such as the 3-D printers, robotics, and micro-controllers.
So far, he really enjoys the students and staff here at SPHS. He loves the enthusiasm, in terms of wanting to learn, as well as how engaged the students are in the program, competitions, and projects. He stated, “It’s really neat to see the creativity they bring to solving the problem and being able to identify problems that are interesting for them to work on.”
As a professional engineer, he worked in a lot of mechanical, electrical, and software engineering and plans to focus on a lot of detail in the engineering/robotics program. Through the program, he wants the students to solve more complicated problems, such as programming micro-controllers to control motors and lights, or building simple robots and adding sensors. Overall, implementing sophisticated challenges that build upon each other throughout the year, and understand the theory behind engineering and the analysis that goes into the design.