During the day you will find me as a Senior Lecturer at the Centre for Quantum Software and Information, which is located at the University of Technology Sydney in sunny Sydney, Australia! By night, I am a husband and father of four of my own budding scientists. And when everyone is asleep, I work on my hobby of writing and illustrating children’s books.
I was never one for writing fiction. I guess that is what half a life of technical training gets you. So I decided to write technically about my passion and target the ages of my young children. Thus, Quantum Physics for Babies was born. I’ve written and spoken about the book’s beginnings and journey before, but I’ve never really reflected on how my time at UWaterloo fits into it. So strap in, the nostalgia bus is departing.
It was September 11, 2001. I was walking through the Student Life Centre on my way to my first class and stopped to see what the crowd of people were looking at on the TV. Suffice it to say I missed that class. Fast forward to second year, which was of course Winter 2013 on account of Stream 4 Co-op. I decided to TA, which in Math meant I helped first year walk-in students at the Math Tutorial Centre. It wasn’t until this moment that I felt I was actually learning something.
There is nothing—nothing—like the responsibility of teaching someone else to help you understand something. I TA’ed in the Tutorial Centre and for upper year and graduate courses my entire student career at UWaterloo. Before I finished my PhD, I even taught some courses. (“Ah, so that’s what the Fundamental Theorem of Calculus is about!” I remember saying while preparing a lecture.) These were invaluable experiences which put me on the path to being able to communicate my research effectively to many audiences.
I’ve had a lot of luck in my career, but one thing that has certainly put me in a position to take advantage of it is teaching and communicating. It has been done in medicine for over 100 years: learn one, do one, teach one. I guess my route has been a little different: learn it, do it, teach it to children.
Check out my twitter page and website to learn more about my upcoming work.