Over 1500 tutoring hours

Isaak B.

Gibsonia, PA


Patient, Thorough, Insightful Tutor with Engineering Background

4.9 average from 398 ratings
Great session!
— Claire, Gibsonia, PA on 12/19/15

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University of Alberta
Engineering Physics


University of Alberta (Engineering Physics)

About Isaak

I hold a Bachelor's degree in Engineering Physics from the University of Alberta. The U of A is one of Canada's largest universities and a top engineering school. I developed skills in math, physics, programming and controls theory there.

I also learned a lot about engineering through participation in student engineering competitions. I joined teams that engineered, promoted and tested conversions of a Ford Taurus and a Dodge Caravan. The Taurus became a hybrid electric vehicle. The Caravan ended up a liquefied propane vehicle. At that time these technologies were future targets of big automakers not yet in production. Driving non-stop through Montana, Wyoming and Colorado was another memorable experience. The dual-wheeled pick-up truck pulled our LPGV van in a mysterious looking trailer. Far some reason, we ended up first on the schedule for pre-competition testing in San Antonio. The appointment seemed far too soon after our last final exam. There were some interesting mishaps along that trip. We had to make some unexpected last-minute adjustments on our vehicle. I had bought some standard components along our trip. I had no choice but to pull an all-nighter in the hotel in San Antonio. We needed to construct and install a fuel-pump timer-controlled circuit designed to help us pass the hot-start test. With my teammates we were able to find a spare fuel pump and some switches suitable for a test-bed. I was able to develop a robust functional circuit by morning. This required a combination of math, physics, electronics, testing, and trouble-shooting. With careful teamwork, we got the circuit installed in the actual vehicle on time. We tested the installation with baited breath. It worked! The competition made stops at College Station, the Texas World Speedway, and Austin and was a great success. After all that stress and a fun, but jam-packed schedule, our tired team headed home. We took the long way back to Edmonton to accept promotional invitations in Oklahoma and Minnesota. What an experience!

My tutoring experience includes five years of tutoring through Wyzant. You can understand from my background why I prefer to tutor math or physics courses. I am well qualified to tutor from high school through at least the first/second-year college-level. On occasion, I also tutor other courses or subjects. Some examples are electrical engineering courses, chemistry, statistics, programming, even ESL. I provide tutoring with a patient, courteous and professional demeanor. I strive to help students develop their knowledge. I myself am an inquisitive, creative person and a lifelong learner. I still take courses online and I frequently consider earning an advanced degree to be able to teach in college. I would probably be a high-school teacher now but for citizenship requirements. I have no desire to give up Canadian citizenship and I feel like I still owe it to Canada not to. Too bad the U.S. does not recognize dual citizenship!

When students meet or exceed their goals, I am glad. It is important that everyone give their best effort throughout life, and school is a great place to start. Without broad and successful education of each generation, how long can we even expect to live in a viable world? How important is education in the interest of fairness, justice, beauty and peace?

A typical tutoring session naturally cycles through question, explanation, demonstration, and application stages. Ideally, a student should use a tutor to augment rather than replace their study efforts. Students who rely on help from a tutor for every problem short-circuit their own success. While I sometimes work through a problem with a student, I avoid providing answers to problems. My goal is to work with the student to ensure they understand the raw concepts, and learn to apply the concept. I am also willing to work with students who understand the concepts but want to strive for better marks. These students sometimes have questions that reach beyond the core material.
I am flexible to work with the student and adapt the session to the student's needs.

A student should maintain the momentum reached during the session by practicing on their own. I would recommend studying a problem until the entirety of the correct solution makes sense. You can assert that the solution makes enough sense to you once you are able to explain the solution to someone else. You should be able to answer frequently asked questions about the problem without your text or notes. You are welcome to send me a text, email or phone call about a problem when a question comes up; I will be glad to help.

The ideal tutoring environment differs from student-to-student. If the noise-level in a coffee shop or cafeteria does not bother the student, a coffee shop could be ideal for that student. White crowd noise can sometimes be comforting, familiar, and invigorating. If the student prefers a quiet environment, meeting online might be ideal. Noise-canceling headphones can make online meeting rather conducive for concentration. A library's tutoring room might be ideal for sensitive students. A student's home is where some students work best.

I am also willing to help athletes explore or train for sports such as volleyball, basketball, badminton or the mile. I helped represent my high-school competitively in each of these sports and School-reach. Our teams received state-level medals in School-reach and in our division of volleyball. In high school, I was a middle hitter/blocker and considered the best passer by the coach. I was also a player/coach in a recreational league, sometimes playing setter, and played a lot of beach volleyball. Ice hockey, soccer and ultimate are also among my favorites. My services might be ideal for the athlete or small group of athletes that are exploring a new sport. I could also help a team who needs a replacement or substitute coach at short notice.
I hold a Bachelor's degree in Engineering Physics from the University of Alberta. The U of A is one of Canada's largest universities and a top engineering school. I developed skills in math, physics, Read more

24 hours notice required
Travel Radius
Travels within 40 miles of Gibsonia, PA 15044
Background Check: Passed

"Great session!"

- Claire, Gibsonia, PA on 12/19/15

"Helpful math tutoring"

- Robbie, Mount Laurel, NJ on 12/7/15

"Great Help"

- Andres, Cranberry Twp, PA on 12/1/15


- Mark, Kissimmee, FL on 11/25/15

"Great Tutor!"

- Lydia, Pittsburgh, PA on 10/18/15

"Knowledgable and patient tutor"

- Fahad, Pittsburgh, PA on 10/13/15

"Very patient tutor!"

- Heather, Pittsburgh, PA on 6/29/15

"Very knowledgeable, patient and went the extra mile to ensure everything was understood."

- Payton, Mc Donald, PA on 6/5/15

"Great 1st meeting"

- Alicia, Baden, PA on 3/23/15

"Very thorough"

- Ellen, Sewickley, PA on 2/12/15

"Excellent Physics Tutor"

- Gary, Pittsburgh, PA on 12/13/14

"Increased my score on the GRE by 20 percent"

- Kamy, Pittsburgh, PA on 11/26/14

"Fantastic tutor"

- Angela, Pittsburgh, PA on 11/21/14

"Great tutor"

- Kim, Mars, PA on 11/5/14


- Melissa, Sierra Vista, AZ on 9/18/14

"Very helpful and explains well"

- Mark, Raleigh, NC on 6/29/14

"Great with Young Adults"

- Joe, Murrysville, PA on 5/30/14

"Great Tutor!"

- Cecilia, Glenshaw, PA on 4/17/14

"Excellent Tutor"

- Rina, Wexford, PA on 3/13/14

"What a difference 90 minutes makes"

- P, Mars, PA on 1/23/14

"Very patient and insightful!!"

- Julia, Sewickley, PA on 11/2/13

"Very Smart and extremely patient"

- Jean, Gibsonia, PA on 10/22/13

"Astute to learning needs."

- Amanda, Allison Park, PA on 5/1/13

"Thorough and knowledgeable."

- Inger, Bradfordwoods, PA on 4/11/13

"Great tutor!"

- Nick, Valencia, PA on 2/22/13

"Very well-versed in physics"

- Tom, Pittsburgh, PA on 11/15/12
ACT Science, Chemistry,
Electrical Engineering,
Physical Science, Physics
English, ESL/ESOL, SAT Reading, SAT Writing
Test Preparation:
ACT Math,
ACT Science, Common Core, GED, GRE,
SAT Math,
SAT Reading, SAT Writing
Elementary Education:
Common Core, Elementary Science

Approved subjects are in bold.

Approved subjects

In most cases, tutors gain approval in a subject by passing a proficiency exam. For some subject areas, like music and art, tutors submit written requests to demonstrate their proficiency to potential students. If a tutor is interested but not yet approved in a subject, the subject will appear in non-bold font. Tutors need to be approved in a subject prior to beginning lessons.

ACT Math

The ACT math test can be challenging exam to prepare for, especially for students who completed the relevant high school math courses significantly earlier than their test date. It tends to have broader expectations on the depth of math knowledge, especially geometry, than does the SAT, which could catch unprepared students by surprise. I have recently worked through the math and geometry review section of an ACT math prep review book with students who needed a crash course. I have not yet encountered ACT math questions I could not answer, and I would be glad to help anyone who could benefit from additional help.

Algebra 1

I am able to help students who, for whatever reason, fall behind their expectations in algebra I. The polynomial and rational functions, exponents and logarithms, radical expressions, factoring, polynomial division, and equation-solving skills and principles studied in Algebra I are foundational skills for investigators in science, managers optimizing business decisions, engineers improving a design, or software developers cracking open new concepts.

Algebra 2

As an engineer, I routinely use the skills and principles taught in Algebra 2! Exponents, logarithms and roots come up all the time because many relationships between important factors in a design or description of a natural principle can only be treated as if they were linear, or that is, adequately described using straight lines, to the roughest of approximations. Not having these mathematical tools would make engineering work rather crude. Imagine how the drawings of a Corvette would look if the artist were restricted to use only straight lines!

Similarly, complex numbers are very useful for describing periodic waveforms, predicting natural resonances in systems, designing control systems and many other things.

I enjoy helping students understand and master the challenge of solving equations involving one or more of these non-linear equations, systems of linear equations.


I love calculus because it has revealed so many hidden truths, things that would have been very difficult to realize without it! How else could you figure out the volume of a sphere, the center of mass and the moment of inertia of a complicated structure, the modes of vibration of a structure, the amount of deflection expected in a beam, the fundamental modes of a plant under feedback control? Did you ever know that without calculus, we most likely would still not know that light is an electromagnetic wave? We'd probably not have been able to develop over-the-air communications either. No radio! No broadcast television! No 4G networks! We would also probably still not understand why orbits are elliptical, why the periodic table is the way it is, why materials bend the way they do under loads. No skyscrapers! No space program! No supersonic aircraft!

My own calculus background began in a tiny (by local standards) rural high school. While there I studied calculus on my own in study hall by correspondence (like both of the other students)!. I had never heard of AP or IB courses and had no access to them (although on the other hand, I maybe had a fuller more balanced high school life, as a result -- I am not saying taking an AP course is always the best decision for everyone).

At university, the first year of engineering had two consecutive courses on calculus, Calculus I on limits, differentiation and integration and Calculus II, primarily on series and sequences. Calculus II sometimes also covers a few of the easier ordinary differential equations. I took Calculus III about vector calculus, volumes of revolution, and the Stokes and Green's theorems. A course on ordinary differential equations followed. This involves studying techniques for figuring out what function satisfies a given equation if the equation defines a complex relationship between a derivative of its independent variable and the variable itself. I later took a course on partial differential equations. We studied techniques for finding multi-variable expressions which satisfy relationships between independent variables and/or their partial derivatives. The last calculus course I took was the calculus of complex variables, which involves the exploitation of properties of the complex plane (the plane encompassing both real and imaginary numbers). It turns out that there is an incredible alternative way to finding the inverse Laplace transform of a function (which some of you electrical engineering and differential equations students will have used) involving line integrals evaluated along curves traversing paths through the complex plane.

I have successfully tutored several college students in Calculus I and II and worked with a few students on selected ordinary differential equations topics. The AP calculus courses (A/B and B/C) some students are privileged to take in high school cover all the same material as these college courses and I am well-suited to helping students prepare for these exams. I provide conceptual and strategic assistance to any calculus student in high school calculus, AP calculus, or Calculus I and II. I can also help ordinary differential equations with most of the material if I have a bit of advance notice on what they need help with.

I still have my notes from the partial differential equations course and the complex variable calculus course. The former was a challenging course that very few undergraduate engineering students venture to tackle. I did very well in the latter but I have grown rusty at it. I would be willing to attempt to help partial differential equations and complex calculus students but I can offer no guarantees (there is no charge if I don't manage to aid you in some way).


I earned top marks in high school chemistry and completed the two college inorganic chemistry courses standard to most engineering programs with above average grades. I also took several related courses over the course of earning my engineering physics bachelor's degree, including classical thermodynamics, engineering thermodynamics, and statistical thermodynamics (acing the final!). Recently, I also completed a Stanford MOOC on photovoltaics and battery chemistry, which improved my understanding of the topic immensely.
Chemistry education has certainly improved significantly with the advent of the information age, and I have enjoyed tutoring chemistry. I generally prefer to limit my chemistry tutoring to those students who also occasionally need math, physics, or test prep help.

Computer Programming

I have several years of professional experience working as a software developer. I have developed a variety of control, measurement, analysis and testing applications using LabVIEW. I contributed a year's worth of feature development and expansion to an existing PC application for acquisition and analysis of PC-based semi-automated bio-medical microscopic imaging using Visual C++ and learned how to use XML as an effective and reliable human-readable information storage. I developed several versions of an application for controlling a printer that used a 30W C02 laser to permanently mark coated metals by burning the coating using Visual Basic and C#. I have also done a little bit of programming for embedded devices using cross-platform C and Basic compilers. More recently, I became reacquainted with Fortran and its multi-processing capabilities, and also gained a passing familiarity with Python, Ruby, and Javascript.

Differential Equations

Differential equations, and their digital counterpart, difference equations, are hugely important to the study of many fields.

I can help any calculus student learn to solve separable ordinary differential equations, non-separable first order linear equations, second-order linear ordinary differential homogeneous equations with constant coefficients. Students often struggle with the methods of underdetermined coefficients, variation of parameters, and transform techniques such as Fourier transforms, and Laplace transforms. I can help because my degree included all of this material, much of which was applied later in several engineering courses.

Electrical Engineering

Some of the fruits of electrical engineering are ubiquitous throughout modern society, while other aspects of it play behind-the-scenes. Electrical/electronic engineering includes the analysis of circuits, motors, transmission lines, semiconductor devices, digital circuits, analog circuits, control systems, power conversion, micro-processing, control theory (classical, modern, and digital), electrostatics, electrodynamics and others.

Each of these topics is deep enough to make up one or more courses all by itself. I am well-qualified to teach introductory circuit analysis of AC/DC circuits; it is the basic glue that every electrical engineering -related degree-holder knows like the back of their hand. I have helped students struggling with digital circuit theory and boolean algebra, MOSFET logic circuits, amplifier design, control theory, etc.


Geometry is a fundamental tool with which it is important for every student to be familiar. I help students who have difficulties constructing geometrical figures using a straight-edge and a compass. I understand geometrical theorems and can demonstrate constructing geometrical proofs that require the conjunction of several of them.
I can inspire students to consider the material relevant by recounting some of the roles geometrical arguments play in practical applications in engineering, science, business, medicine, and sports.


I have worked with a small number of other undergraduates or bachelor's degree holders preparing to take the GRE. Perhaps math has never been your strong suit or perhaps you did ok or even excelled in math at one time, but didn't use much math in your program or maybe only in freshman year. It happens to many GRE applicants! I have the patience and the time to help anyone recover (or if necessary, develop) mathematical skills necessary to excel on the quantitative portion of the GRE. My first GRE student left me what I consider a very positive review. I tutor a lot of math which is more demanding and a wide variety of math courses. This is probably partly why I am able to tutor GRE quantitative section effectively despite never having taken the GRE myself.

Linear Algebra

Linear algebra is the study of systems of equations described using matrix and vector notation.

It can seem like a chore before you realize the practical applications of it, but it is a chore worth doing well, as it has myriad applications throughout engineering theory.

The knowledge of linear algebra simplify the task of solving simultaneous equations. This is ginormous! Why? Because simultaneous equations arise that need to be solved to do structural design in civil engineering, circuit design in electrical, lens design in optics, control systems design. Aspects of it are used in physics to solve quantum mechanical equations, in mechanics to find torque vectors or moments, .... etc.

In short, there are untellable numbers of applications, but you'll run into applications of linear algebra time and time again, so learn it thoroughly the first time!

Microsoft Excel

I have worked extensively with several versions of Excel (although not with the latest). In conjunction with my background as a software developer, I can readily handle comprehending and exploiting some of the most obscure features of the package, including the use of plug-ins, VBA, writing macros and setting up spreadsheets with custom formatting. I have set up numerous Excel spreadsheets over the years. I use it to help me do my taxes every year, to explore and compare various alternatives when making decisions at home and on the job, and to analyze data (even in three dimensions) including curve-fitting and statistics.

Microsoft PowerPoint

Powerpoint is a Windows application designed to help you produce effective, readable, and attractive slide presentations. It can also help you apply an overall theme to your entire presentation, so that you can experiment with and customize the color scheme and choose from a variety of styles and animations to help jazz up your presentation. Video and music can easily be incorporated and accompanying handouts can be customized in myriad ways (although not always appropriate depending on the purpose, audience, and circumstances). I am qualified to tutor someone in Powerpoint because my most recent Powerpoint presentation drew specific praise for being a very effective use of the tool. If I recall correctly, I believe it was about a physics experiment on blackbody radiation. My background as a software developer often gives me special insights into the inner workings of such packages to allow me to notice, understand and explain behaviors and functionality that sometimes seem nonsensical to the average user.


I developed strong problem-solving skills while earning my bachelor's degree in engineering physics at the University of Alberta. My degree's requirements included some physics courses taught by the Physics department.


Precalculus is an important and interesting part of every student's life if they are considering taking calculus, arguably the most useful mathematical tool ever invented (and by reputation, perhaps the most intimidating).

Building a solid foundation in the trigonometric relations, the relations between the manipulations of an equation and its graph, inverse functions, composite functions, domains, ranges, roots of polynomials, and the like ensures that the study of calculus will not become far more difficult and intimidating than it needs to be. Focus on doing well in precalculus so that you can get through calculus without a headache!

SAT Math

The SAT Math test is typical of many standardized math tests in that often as not, two or more of the typically four offered answers can be eliminated if one knows some of the most important math shortcuts -- simple facts and observations that can save time or improve accuracy.

In most cases, I coach students to put their calculators away. Most SAT questions can be answered correctly without pressing a single key. Only after all questions have been attempted would I normally consider checking work with a calculator.

To improve SAT math scores, I work with a student to make sure their understanding of the subject is strong, and help work the kinks out of any identified weaknesses in the tested skills. Solid understanding is a prerequisitie of sane confidence, a prerequisite to keeping exam stress within healthy and helpful bounds.


Even though I have never myself encountered a need to take a course purely dedicated to statistics, I have successfully tutored students struggling with concepts in statistics. Perhaps this is because I am very good at math, and tutor a lot of it, and therefore easily understand all of the math involved. It is partly because I have in the past signed out and studied statistics textbooks from the library in order to make sure I was prepared enough to help the stats students who had nowhere else to turn. Finally, part of earning my bachelor's degree in engineering physics required passing a course called "Statistical Thermodynamics" in which I learned about how the statistics of the motions of atoms in a gas, or atoms in a magnet, or molecules in a rubber band, for instance, can be used to help us study various aspects of our world and predict certain properties of it. I earned a perfect score on the final exam in that course. I also encountered aspects of statistics in other courses such as quantum physics, laser electronics, control system theory, and certain physics laboratory experiments.


Trigonometry is useful for making measurements of existing things, planning future things, and implementing the planned things. Navigation is a good example of a task involving all three and is an essential part of many kinds of work, with or without college degrees. One must establish locations, plan routes and follow headings even when sufficiently accurate, quick, reliable and affordable technological aids are not available. In any case, sophisticated technologies like GPS and other measurement systems intend to augment rather than replace one's understanding of angles and directions. The skill-set offered by trigonometry directly benefits everyone who must move or manipulate within our three-dimensional world.

The relationships between the sides and angles of a triangle are also crucial for students to learn for more abstract reasons. These relationships provide a basis for understanding and describing other shapes. Trigonometry helps describe familiar two-dimensional shapes such as lines, circles, ellipses, and hyperbolas as well as familiar three-dimensional shapes like spheres, prisms, pyramids, and cylinders. Trigonometric skills are necessary to work with fancier two-dimensional shapes such as cardioids, limacons, roses, cissoids, foliums, cycloids, and conchoids. These skills also simplify the description of complex three-dimensional shapes such as spheroids, hyperboloids, and spirals. Most generally of all, a powerful technique published by Joseph Fourier in the early nineteenth century breaks arbitrarily complex waveforms into combinations of the trigonometric functions. This technique, called Fourier analysis, is fundamental to several engineering, scientific and mathematical applications. The knowledge of the properties of triangles and familiarity with each of the trigonometric functions helps future college graduates, tradesmen, and artists alike.

Although business calculus courses typically omit the use of trigonometric functions, students pursuing degrees in engineering or science must take a full-fledged version of calculus. They are expected to know and understand trigonometric functions and identities before they begin.

Understanding triangles can help students planning to work in various trades. Advanced electric work (as a journeyman or master electrician, or with electronics) involves trigonometry because the math needed for understanding the measurement of alternating-current electricity requires it. Other construction jobs, such as welding, machining, carpentry, stonework, landscaping, earthwork, and plumbing, use trigonometry for making measurements, estimating costs, and constructing precise angles.

Trigonometry has pragmatic value to artists such as sculptors, animators, painters, and photographers. Artists exploiting their knowledge of triangles and more advanced shapes produce more beautiful sculptures, paintings, animations and photos than their competition.


While a full-time university student, I player-coached a men's volleyball team that started with some rank beginners and level 15 (= last) of a bubble-up/down-type weekly city-wide recreational volleyball league up to around level 10 in only one year.
I made use of my high school experience, in which I was voted athlete of the year largely on the strength of being a key player of a two-time provincial bronze medal-winning team, including an undefeated regular season my senior year, as well as training obtained from the coaches and players of the collegiate teams of the University of Calgary Dinos, and the internationally-ranked University of Alberta Golden Bears, including "Most Improved Player" from renowned U of A coach, Terry D. as a member of an adult summer volleyball camp. While I cannot exactly claim to have developed the skill set of an indoor-game setter, I also accumulated several games worth of two-on-two sand court experience, in which setting skills are particularly important, and I often serve as the setter in typical pickup games.

I am nevertheless undoubtedly skilled enough to help many players improve their float serve, jump-serve, hitting, passing, court vision, blocking, and team play.

University of Alberta
Engineering Physics


University of Alberta (Engineering Physics)

Great session! — Thank you Isaak for the great session this morning! You provided patient support and made things much easier to understand. We have an increased level of confidence for the upcoming test and will definitely be scheduling future sessions. We highly recommend you! ...

— Claire, Gibsonia, PA on 12/19/15

Hourly fee

Standard Hourly Fee: $48.00

Cancellation: 24 hours notice required

Travel policy

Isaak will travel within 40 miles of Gibsonia, PA 15044.