Early mornings, late nights, weekends and workdays – John Nierwinski is never really off the clock. As an adjunct professor at Florida Tech’s Aberdeen site, his classroom is not relegated to the space within four walls. In addition to the time he spends teaching, advising and assisting his students in the classroom with the graduate level courses in mathematics, operations research and business management he teaches, he also invests considerable time mentoring them outside of regular class hours.
He cares about his students, in his class – after class – and long after graduation.
Recently, Nierwinski was honored for his dedicated role as a mentor at the Northeastern Maryland Technology Council (NMTC) Visionary Awards. During the ceremony he was presented with the “Mentor Award.” A designation reserved for “role models for future generations.”
The NMTC awards recognize those who have contributed to building a STEM-educated workforce and advancing technology and innovation.
According to the NMTC, the mentor award “illuminates those consistently volunteering their knowledge, experiences and wisdom by going above and beyond in using their personal time and resources simply for the love of stimulating and inspiring greatness in students or teachers or organization protégés.”
“I go out of my way in my off duty time to help my students learn.” Nierwinski said. “I mentor many students with various kinds of problems that arise after class and well after they have graduated.”
Timothy Potter received his master’s degree in operations research from Florida Tech in 2015. Nierwinski was one of his professors.
Today they are co-workers at the U.S. Army Materiel Systems Analysis Activity (AMSAA) at Aberdeen Proving Ground (APG) where Nierwinski is an operations research analyst.
“He is a great teacher in the classroom and at work,” Potter said. “He is a great sounding board. Many times we’ll get together and I’ll bounce things off him and he’ll give me insight or direction.”
Operations Research Experience
Potter believes that because Nierwinski actually works in the same field his students are studying, it makes a huge difference.
“Many times John would teach a lesson and look around the room and say, ‘this applies to the work project that you’re doing right now,” Potter said. “That kind of immediate application of concepts is invaluable.”
Nierwinski graduated from Florida Tech’s Aberdeen site himself with a master’s in operational research. He has taught at the very same site for the past eight years.
“It is rewarding for me be a mentor because it often leads to the student becoming a more productive person throughout their whole life.” Nierwinski said. “The mentoring relationship starts with motivating and inspiring the student to learn and then continues with advising and helping them apply what they learned to their life as problems arise in work and non-work situations.”
During his time as an adjunct professor, Nierwinski has taught approximately 30 AMSAA employees, 50 additional APG employees (Army Research Laboratory (ARL), Army Test and Evaluation Command (ATEC) and Army Communications-Electronics Command (CECOM)) and 30 non-APG employees.
In addition, he’s authored various professional journal articles and numerous technical reports on a variety of research topics and methodologies. Also, in 2012 he was issued a U.S. Patent by the United States Patent & Trademark Office for an innovative methodology and process that he invented.
“John is a natural teacher, always pursuing deeper, foundational ideas and investigating unique slants on topics,” Potter said. “With the underlying goal of being able to understand the math so fully that he can explain it concisely and clearly to his next student.”