America landed a man on the moon and created "Star Trek." Those two things were more than enough to get Dr. Gary Tucker interested in science when he was just a boy.
He went to K-Mart when he was in middle school, and he found chemistry books for $1. He bought and devoured those. Then he found they had books on mathematics and calculus. Completed both of them. When he got to high school, he took a geometry class. Guess what book he found at home — yes, geometry.
The book at home taught him how a formal geometry proof should look, and when he turned in his first proof, it was perfect. The geometry teacher sent him to the back of the room — in a good way: "You just sit back there and work on your own. You'll be fine."
He knew he had found his calling.
When Tucker was a sophomore at Averett (then called Averett College), the school began offering computer science. That was a natural fit for him, and he is now a professor of computer science.
Although he clearly loves (and teaches) both math and computer science, he does issue an interesting warning: "Math books don't get obsolete, but computer things do. It's Windows 7 now, but it will be 8 when they graduate and 9 about 10 minutes later. So I give them the Google Earth view of computer science. If they want to drill down, into the current details of today, that's up to them. Definitely the most important thing I do is teach them how to learn."
He also works to develop his students' presentation skills: "Every other Friday, they do presentations, summarizing news stories to the class. We do that in every upper-level IT course, because if you're getting a degree in computer science, you'll likely be the head of a computer science group someday. That means you'll need to stand up and talk in public, asking for budget money, justifying your requests, presenting a case."
Tucker currently is expanding internship opportunities for the math and computer science students, and their presentation skills will likely be put to use there, even before graduation.
Additional study at Nova Southeastern University, computer science
10+ years in Internet security; 15+ years teaching
Keeping Children Safe on the Internet; General Internet Safety: Worms, Viruses, Malicious Software; Information Privacy; Applying Mathematics to Biology; Using Technology to Teach Mathematics
Southern Piedmont Technology Council, secretary