In celebration of Buffalo State’s Year of the Innovator (YOTI) and National Engineers Week, the Engineering Technology Department is hosting Darren Coon, ‘99, president and CEO of TeacherGeek, on Thursday, February 26, from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. in Technology Building 160. It is free and open to the public.
Coon’s talk “Headfirst into Innovation: Painful and Somewhat Effective,” will cover his experience founding TeacherGeek, a manufacturer and retailer of activities and components for science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) teachers that is based in Brockport, New York.
Part of a series of alumni innovator presentations this academic year, Coon’s lecture is designed not only for engineering technology and technology education students, but for anyone interested in entrepreneurship, said Rita Zientek, interim dean of the School of the Professions, which is spearheading YOTI. His story speaks to the importance of innovative thinking.
Clark Greene, lecturer or engineering technology, said Coon’s story is indicative of the close relationship between technology education and engineering.
"Sometimes our technology education graduates end up being engineers, and sometimes our engineering tech graduates end up being teachers," said Greene.
Coon has done both. After graduating from Buffalo State, Coon integrated his engineering acumen into a high school classroom in Rochester, New York, where he recognized that resources were lacking for teachers.
"As a technology teacher, I found that we were constantly customizing project components for students, modifying existing products on the market to suit the particular needs of our lessons,” Coon explains on the TeacherGeek website. "The pieces never quite fit and having students try to reshape the parts was dangerous and took away from the overall focus of the lab. One day I decided there must be a better way, and TeacherGeek was born.”
Now, educators across the country are using the mechanical modeling systems that Coon developed. You can’t get much more innovative than that.
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