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Pierre M.

Experienced JPL engineer wants to coach students in math, physics

Pasadena, CA (91101)

Travel radius
20 miles
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When I was younger I wanted to understand Quantum Mechanics, so I went to M.I.T. and got a Ph. D. in Theoretical Physics. For a while I did research at places like Purdue University and I.B.M. Corp., then I taught at Brandeis University for a year as an Assistant Professor. At that point, I realized that academic life was not for me; there was too much emphasis on getting government grants and not enough on simply discovering the truth.

So, at the age of 30 I switched course and took a job with Ford Motor Co. in Dearborn, Mich. In many ways, this was a dream job: I could still do research if I wanted, but I had a chance to look at "real life" problems that had an impact on today's world, like for example designing very high efficiency Diesel engines without polluting the environment, using advanced computer-based methods for designing and manufacturing the engines.

As it turns out, Ford was a rather bureaucratic company even though in my opinion they treat their employees very well. So, I decided to leave and do something more exciting. Since I had learned a lot about using computers to automate industrial problems, I became a consultant in computer-aided design and manufacturing (CAD/CAM) and joined a consulting firm in Berkeley, California. This was an exciting time, and I got to meet a lot of really interesting people, but I also discovered that I was not a good businessman - I like technical problems too much, and I would always spend time with the engineers instead of talking to their bosses about signing a contract.

I ended up at the Jet Propulsion Lab in Pasadena, where I have been employed for over 20 years. I love my job there - I get to work on space missions like the Mars Exploration Rovers and trying to discover hidden oceans under the surface of Europa, the most fascinating moon of Jupiter. I would like to complement my work at JPL with some more personal, one-on-one teaching opportunities. Over the years I've raised five kids, four of whom graduated from UC Berkeley; my youngest just entered UCLA. I miss coaching them, and I would love helping a young student the same way I've helped my own kids most of my life.

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Pierre’s subjects

Algebra 1, Algebra 2, Calculus, Differential Equations, Discrete Math, Geometry, Linear Algebra, Logic, Prealgebra, Precalculus, Probability, SAT Math, Statistics, Trigonometry
Physical Science, Physics
Algebra 1, Algebra 2, Calculus, French, Geometry, Physics, Piano, Prealgebra, Precalculus, SAT Math, Statistics
Test Preparation:
SAT Math
Corporate Training:
C++, French, Statistics


I have been programming in C for a living since 1984 and in C++ since 1994. I have 20+ years of experience in both languages at JPL. I have coached a number of colleagues at JPL on subtle features of C++, which is an incredibly powerful but complex language.


I have been programming in C for a living since 1984 and in C++ since 1994. I have 20+ years of experience in both languages at JPL. I wrote a planning program 10 years ago, which is still being used to command the Mars Exploration Rover. I have coached a number of colleagues at JPL on subtle features of C++, which is an incredibly powerful but complex language.

Computer Programming

I started programming in FORTRAN in the 1960's at Louvain University (Belgium); we were using decks of punched cards back then. I did this to perform all the calculations required to satisfy the requirements of my MSEE degree which I got in 1971. Since then, I have solved countless programming challenges while employed at Ford Research (Dearborn, MI), at various small companies and finally at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

Differential Equations

I have a PhD in theoretical physics from MIT, which I obtained in 1975. In order to satisfy the requirements for my degree I had to solve numerous problems involving both ordinary and partial differential equations. You can get some examples of my scientific work through google: try "Maldague Pierre positron annihilation" to get a link to a paper I wrote in 1979 on a difficult quantum mechanical problem involving differential equations and other techniques.

Discrete Math

I had to take set theory and formal logic courses as part of the Electrical Engineering curriculum at the University of Louvain, Belgium, where I got my EE degree. Later on, as graduate student in Physics at MIT, I had to take a number of advanced math classes, including topics like group theory that have a significant overlap with discrete mathematics (theory of finite groups.) Finally, in my long career as a programmer I had plenty of opportunities to learn more applications of discrete math, for example when reading the "dragon book" on compiler compilers and the theory of formal context-free languages.


As I was born in Belgium, I speak French fluently. I routinely exchange e-mails and documents written in French with family and friends in Belgium and France, so my skills are current. I have two children who are perfectly bilingual. I am very patient and I am good at conversation, too!
À bientôt!

Linear Algebra

I have a PhD in theoretical physics from MIT, which I obtained in 1975. In order to qualify for this degree I had to take numerous math classes, including higher algebra and a number of related topics. I have coached my 5 children in math; I must have done something right because 4 of them graduated from UC Berkeley and 1 just started at UCLA. I use algebra routinely in my job as an expert in planning and scheduling applications for space missions at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory.


I have been using the Linux OS since 1998, both at work and at home where I used to maintain a set of networked Linux PC's for my family to use. Needless to say, a large amount of informal coaching took place for my wife and kids to become reasonably proficient. At work (JPL), I have been programming in a LInux environment for over 15 years. I have taught classes at JPL that included the basics of logging into a Linux workstation from a Mac or a PC and getting work done using the command line and basic bash shell capabilities.


I have played the piano since I was 10 years old; I took private lessons for 8 years while attending grade, middle and high school. While in high school I was the organist of our boys' choir, and we performed all over Europe for the 4 years I was in that position. More recently, I took piano lessons with Hiroyo Hatsuyama, who is on the faculty at Pepperdine University. I would be qualified to teach beginner students in the basics of piano playing, with emphasis on traditional methods and classical music.

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Louvain University, Belgium (Electrical Engineeri)

Massachusetts Institute of Technologu (PhD)

Very patient, clear, and organized Pierre is a great tutor. He is a physicist and engineer for JPL, with lots of experience and knowledge in science, math, and computer programming. His experience, however, makes his perspective on these subject matters unique. His tutoring is not only solid in content, but he has anecdotes that add to your understanding of the subject, and this is something that no book can give. ...

— Don from Los Angeles, CA on 6/12/14);

Hourly fee

Standard Hourly Fee: $65.00

Cancellation: 24 hours notice required

Travel policy

Pierre will travel within 20 miles of Pasadena, CA 91101.

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