This Tuesday was the last day of school for Amy and Wendy. I drove them to their first day of nursery school almost 20 years ago . . .  

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. . . and this week I drove them to their last day of school.

The twins' last school day

I'm very proud of them and all that they have accomplished. It's been a privilege for Kathy and me to home school our daughters and watch them grow into the lovely women they have become. It's been a delight to watch them the past four years as they have grown and matured further at The Master's College. While this chapter of their academic studies has come to an end, I know that they are life-long learners and their education will never be complete.
Robot hand I.eP.jpgI really enjoy consulting and coaching executives and other professionals, because it allows me to make a difference in the lives of others. There's nothing like that moment when their eyes widen and they say "I get it!" or "That's cool!"

I also get to experience this same thing with students in my Intro to Robotics course. This course isn't just a bunch of computer science geeks doing geeky things: I use it to prepare my students to work well, both in their personal and professional lives, by teaching them essential life skills.

I know teaching life skills through robotics sounds far-fetched, so I'm going to prove it below.

Robotics life lessons thumbnail.jpgIn this course, one of the exercises I teach is the After-Action Review. This consists of five questions:
1.        What was supposed to happen?
2.        What actually happened?
3.        Why did it happen?
4.        What did we learn?
5.        How can we do better next time?

On Monday, as I lead them through an After-Action Review, I wrote the answers to the final question on the board (as you can see on the left). The action under review was the students' preparation for their final in-class competition (which involved designing and building a robot in teams), but the answers they came up with also translate to work and life in general.

Note that these are not in order of importance or priority. They're all lessons learned. Here's what my students had to sayplus applies to best practices for life:

Continue Reading "Best Practices for Robotics Competitions, Work, and Life in General" »
Eric with CS328 Intro to Robotics students

Last night, the students in my CS328 Intro to Robotics course competed in their final robotics competition for the semester. They had to work in teams to design, build, and program robots to perform complicated tasks in a limited amount of time, and I'm very proud of what they've accomplished.

After the students presented summaries of their final papers, we set up for the more nerve-wracking part of the class. Each team was scored in four areas:

  1. How well their robot was designed and constructed
  2. How well their robot performed
  3. Ingenuity and problem-solving
  4. Gracious professionalism on the part of the team members, including teamwork and sportsmanship

Each team's robot competed twice and was ranked based on their higher score. In the end, two teams tied with a score of 1,800 (out of 2,000 points possible), so a final tiebreaker was held.

In my book, all the teams did well. It's much harder than it looks to design a strategy to match the tasks, design and build a robot for the purpose, and program the robot to accomplish that strategy. Getting their robots to complete this competition was a major test of skill for my students, so I say well done, class! It's been my pleasure to teach each and every one of you, and I look forward to doing so again.

Here are some photos showing the class and competition (click for larger images):

Team #6 sending their robot on a mission

Team 6 sends their robot on a mission

The competition underway

The competition underway

A close call by the judge

A close call by the judge

The teams with their robots

The teams with their robots

My students successfully designed and programmed their robots to operate devices, handle objects, and navigate obstacles. After the students programmed the bots and pressed the "start" button, the machines were completely on their own — no direct control of any kind from the competitors. Well done, students!



More on Robotics at The Master's College:


A Master's College student recently wrote a very nice article about the Robotics course I teach. She hit the nail on the head: critical thinking, creating solutions, analyzing problems, and communicating effectively are the real core of this class.
Beyond SciFi: Master’s students building robots on campus
By Emily Rader

By 9:30 p.m., the end of class had come on the first night of professor Eric Mack’s Introduction to Robotics course with hardly any notice from the students. The 17 computer science majors were so engaged in the course that to stay late to work on test robots in the lab was a no-brainer.

The opportunity to learn about robot application programming, make functioning robots and battle in robot competitions might intrigue anyone. However, a robotics class that simultaneously trains students in problem-solving and life skills from a biblical perspective makes this class unique to The Master’s College.

Click here to read the rest of the article.

Thank you, Emily, and all my students!

More on Robotics:

Why I love teaching at The Master’s College

Tuesday, January 27th, 2015
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Imagine returning to your old college – seeing students learning what you learned so many years ago, maybe even from the same professors, getting the same education you did. Imagine returning to be part of their journey!

That's just what I've been doing for seven years as an adjunct professor at The Master's College. Obviously, I have the best students in the world, and I love my subjects and the school's commitment to Biblically-based teaching.

The Biblical perspective shapes everything about teaching here, from how the material is presented to how professors engage with the students.

Continue Reading "Why I love teaching at The Master's College" »
Not long after my Introduction to Robotics course started, it got its very first press coverage!

Three years ago, I was interviewed by Jason Cremeen, a student writing for The Master's Piece, a student publication of The Master's College. What I love about this article is how Jason emphasizes that this course is not an engineering program for computer nerds only -- it's a hands-on critical-thinking course for anyone.

You can read Jason's article here.

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Starting this evening, I'll be teaching Intro to Robotics at The Master's College once again. I love having this opportunity to teach students critical thinking and problem-solving in a very hands-on way -- by building robots that solve puzzles and attack each other!

I created this course at Master's a couple years ago. At the time, a few students from the College made this (admittedly silly) video to show in Master's chapel to promote the course:

Of course, this video is not wholly accurate. Students never watch cartoons in my class (though they have been known to eat M&M's).

And since we're on the subject of teaching...

Pop quiz!
Which TMC faculty and staff did you see in the video?
How many different robots were shown?
Bonus: whose lab was this shot in?

I look forward to sharing more about this class!

A fuller description of the course is available at masters.edu.

GTD Meetup at The Master’s College

Tuesday, March 6th, 2012
This morning I was invited to be a guest speaker at a GTD meetup at The Master's College in Santa Clarita. A group of professionals have been studying David Allen's book, Getting Things Done - The Art of Stress Free Productivity, for the past year and asked if I would be willing to host a GTD Q&A session.  
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I shared a 5 minute overview of the GTD methodology then took questions. There were a lot of excellent questions about managing lists, what tools to use, and how to work across disparate systems.

The new Legacy Center is an impressive meeting venue. While I teach two classes on campus, I've not spent much time there. What a beautiful facility; it's hard not to feel scholarly.

I consider it a privilege to share what I have learned with a fine group of people dedicated to developing the next generation of students. I wish I had been taught the skills of high performance knowledge work when I was a young student. I'm delighted to help those who are investing in the lives of the next generation and I look forward to the next opportunity to do so.

The Mack Sisters Handbell Debut at Bellfest 2010

Saturday, November 27th, 2010
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This summer, Amy & Wendy decided to prepare a special piece to perform at the Master's College annual Bellfest and chose the song "O Holy Night". While they have been ringing bells for a long time, this was Emily and Kelly's first time to ring handbells and they were very eager to learn. The girls had a lot of fun practicing together and filling the house with music and were able to pull it off. It was amazing to see how quickly the piece came together and how smoothy it went.

After an audition, the girls were invited to perform in the Master's college Bellfest and everyone enjoyed it!


The girls enjoyed playing this song on the handbells and the four of them look forward to performing together again.


Preparing Adult Learners for Leadership

Saturday, November 27th, 2010
If you've followed my blog from the beginning, you know that I earned my bachelor's degree in Organizational Management from The Master's College, in Santa Clarita, California. I then went on to complete my Master's degree in Information and Knowledge Management from California State University at Northridge.

A few years ago, I was invited to join the staff at The Master's College as an adjunct professor in the Organizational Management program at the Center for Professional Studies (CPS). Currently, I teach MGT430 Technology for Business Decision Making.

TMCCPSLogo.jpgAt The Master's College, Christian adults can earn a Bachelor's degree in Organizational Management, Christian Ministries, or Liberal Studies in as little as two years. Along the way, they will grow academically, intellectually,  professionally, and spiritually. I know, I did.

If you are considering a degree in one of the above areas and want to learn from a biblically based institution, I encourage you to check out The Center for Professional Studies.

Teaching for a change

Tuesday, October 6th, 2009
Last year, I became an adjunct professor at The Master's College in Santa Clarita, California. I'm teaching a course called "Technology for business decision-making (MGT430)" which is a part of the Organizational Management program.

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This survey course will impart a basic understanding of technology and productivity as they relate to organizational frameworks.  The importance of information technology and the vast amounts of data available can provide a highly useful and productive tool for attaining strategic and competitive advantages, but it must be viewed based on the value of the information produced by various technological tools.

This is the third time I have taught this course and I'm really really enjoying the opportunity to share what I have learned with the next generation of management students. It's fun to give back.

Majesty in Worship

Sunday, October 5th, 2008
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This morning, the mountains of Pine Mountain Club were alive with the voices of Majesty, as they ministered to us and challenged us from Scripture. Majesty, a ten member singing ensemble composed of full-time students from The Master's College, lead us in worship. These young people serve as ambassadors for Christ and for the college as they minister in churches throughout Southern California each week.

After church, the ensemble remained to visit and to answer questions. My daughters enjoyed visiting with the ensemble, too. We learned that the ensemble is a small group from the Master Chorale and that they travel throughout the West Coast during the school year. During the summer, they tour throughout the United States and the world. After a church potluck in the log cabin, we helped load up the van before sending the group off for their next event.

As a graduate of The Master's College, I was blessed to hear various iterations of this group at our CPS Chapel. Now, as an adjust professor, I have the opportunity to return and serve others as well.

It was not the first time our family has been blessed by their voices, and I certainly hope it will not be the last. If you live in Southern California, I encourage you to visit their Web Site to see if Majesty will be serving at a church near you.

Thank you Majesty!


This weekend, Amy and Wendy were invited to participate in Bellfest 2007 at The Master's College.  Christine Anderson taught a bell class for small groups, ensembles, and solos.  Amy and Wendy prepared a beautiful piece to share at the concert at the end of the day. (Click on the image to watch the video)



What's amazing is that the girls accomplished this using two inexpensive sets of children's bells. If you've ever seen or rung one of these bells - where the clapper can go in any direction - you will know how hard it is to get one of these bells to ring only once or on queue. Amy and Wendy perfected a technique that allowed them to do this well, and they were an inspiration to everyone present.  I'm very proud of them..

I'm also very appreciative of Mrs. Anderson for her kindness and invitation and inspiration to my children.

You can visit Christine Anderson's web site at Voices in Bronze
I recently delivered a speech to the incoming students at The Center for Professional Studies (CPS) at The Master's College in Santa Clarita, California.

This was an exciting opportunity for me to encourage the incoming students by sharing my experiences in the Organizational Management program and to offer some secrets for success in getting through the program.

While the speech is directed to students, and adult learners in specific, the principles I share could be applied to anyone in any situation.

This week, business cohort had a reunion and my colleagues encouraged me to share the speech, so here it is. I hope you enjoy it.


First day of school

Friday, September 15th, 2006
It's been a busy week. Amy and Wendy recently began an on-campus homeschool science program at The Master's College. It's a 4-year science program, taught by Dr. Englin, a science professor at the college. Dr. Englin has been teaching this course as an outreach to homeschool families for the past 18 years. While our homeschool curriculum covers this material, its a welcome resource to let them review this in a college setting.
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I'm thrilled to see them have the opportunity to further develop good study skills in a college setting.
Continue Reading "First day of school" »

Completion. What a wonderful feeling!

Friday, May 19th, 2006
This past week, I graduated  with a business degree in Organizational Management. I worked hard, and I managed, with God's grace, to keep my grades up throughout the entire program, graduating Summa Cum Laude, with a GPA of 3.988.

I want to publicly thank the Lord for this opportunity and I want to extend my thanks to the many people who have helped, encouraged and supported my efforts.  My next action is a significant one, I will be working toward my Master of Information and Knowledge Management degree.

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I could not have managed the demands of family, clients, business, and my education, without a great deal of determination, love and support from my wife and children, and my extended family, friends, classmates and clients. My suite of eProductivity tools, along with the Getting Things Done skill's that I've acquired while serving The David Allen Company, also came in handy for managing the multiple projects and actions I needed to complete along the way.

A brief narrative of my journey follows ...
Continue Reading "Completion. What a wonderful feeling!" »