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Over 500 tutoring hours

Brad M.

Blacksburg, VA

$45/hour

Professional Tutor: Ultra Streamlined Math - Physics - Accounting

4.9 average from 168 ratings
Very knowledgable and great teacher.
— Joy, Blacksburg, VA on 12/3/16

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Virginia Tech
mechanical engineer
Virginia Tech
Graduate Coursework

Education

Virginia Tech (mechanical engineer)

Virginia Tech (Graduate Coursework)

About Brad

Since 1987, what young minds have taught me in my thousands of sessions with them (both one-on-one and in the classroom) is that they respond to things that are simple, fun, and practical. They value pictures, stories, game-like "what if?" experiments, and real-world examples. They prefer handiwork over paperwork. Most importantly, students love to personalize -- really understand -- what they are learning rather than to merely slog through textbooks memorizing formulas.

REMOVING THE WORRIES
Families care about time and money. Thus, clients may cancel anytime at no charge! Cost is often negotiable on a case-by-case basis. Students enjoy the lessons or they are free.

Students fear making mistakes. Since we are learning, we're not scared of errors. In fact, during preparation is EXACTLY THE BEST setting for messing up -- we learn more! I like it when clients progress in confidence and know-how enough to notice and correct MY occasional goofs! Since I'm comfortable with my mistakes, students can be at ease, too.

Learning hinges more on temperament and attitude than on intelligence. Our sessions will maintain a calm focus -- always relaxed, flexible, humble, and respectful. While success cannot be assured, especially for last-ditch final exam recoveries, half of my WyzAnt clients have rated our lessons most highly. What I can promise is that sessions will be very different from "school" and quite simple.

2013-2016 WYZANT CLIENT ACTIVITY
Since March 2013, 50 clients (17F, 33M) have purchased 346 lessons. Only 10 lessons (3%) have been "one-time" without 5-star (*****) feedback. Clearly, students have requested repeat business, with over half the teaching time spent with ten regular clients. Rather than aiming for perfect scores, most students seek simple insights to rise from below-average to above-average performance.

The dozen most commonly tutored courses to date have centered around advanced math, physics and accounting. Nearly 25% of mentoring has been allocated to Salem-Blacksburg HS Trig-Alg II. Exam practice for SAT-ACT MATH has comprised another 10%. Popular university math requests have spanned VT MATH 1525-6 (9%), VT MATH 1225-6 (5%), RU MATH 151 and MATH 138 (4% and 3%). Physics assistance has been offered for RU PHYS 111-2 (5%), Roanoke College PHYS 103-4 (4%), and VT PHYS 2305 (3%). Accounting course clusters have featured RU ACTG 211-12 (6%), VT ACIS 2115-6 (3%), and New River CC accounting (3%).

WHAT I BRING TO CLIENTS
Many university students want to quickly comprehend a required course OUTSIDE the major field of study: business majors needing to pass calculus (VT MATH 1525-6), life-science coeds trying to get through physics (RU PHYS 111-2), or marketing students needing to succeed in accounting class (RU ACTG 211-2, VT ACIS 2115-6). Our sessions will focus on the 20% of a subject that can be used 80% of the time, positioning clients for a solid "B" in these tough classes with modest effort, greater confidence, and way less stress.

My interdisciplinary background in energy, electronics, human physiology, music, investments, and sports provides a treasure trove of "true-to-life" examples that can engage a diverse clientele, young and old. Hands-on engineering work includes 2000 hours of power-plant testing along with 2000 hours of lab teaching in electronics, water-air-heat-energy flow, vibrations, and technical writing.

HIGH-STAKES TEST PREP
Too much test time is wasted fooling with equations and calculators. Signs can be missed, fractions inverted, and wrong buttons pushed. Students will learn how to "re-frame" the test questions, avoiding the unproductive "reflex" of jumping "headlong" into equations. Key tools are a few principles and a couple of back-up "safety nets." Math clients will practice using these tools on each test problem.

Two psychological traps hurt scores: overconfidence on "easy" questions, and ever-changing answers to tougher problems. The remedies? Double-checking easy answers (you have time), and keeping your FIRST choices UNLESS there's REASON to change answers. (Note: "Feelings" are NOT reasons; retain the initial response).

Since most exam "retakers" rise less than a few percentiles in rank, we aim for twice that gain: 10-plus percentile improvements.

HOW IT WORKS
While results cannot be assured, our tutoring lessons can serve one of three typical aims. Ideally, tutoring early in a course -- as soon as it gets "murky" -- can clarify things so that the rest of the course will make sense. Or we can have test-prep sessions, much like "warm-ups" with a coach on the driving range or putting green before the golf match. As a last resort with notably less chance of success, an end-of-course "sorting-out of matters" may be attempted to recover the course's final grade. On a case-by-case basis, I am willing to accept the risk of dissatisfied feedback when engaging last-minute "emergency" scenarios since remarkable success has been achievable, though not in every instance. If handy, kindly email a table of contents or course syllabus to show what needs preparing for our very first session and the upcoming exam. Students are always welcome at no cost to Email specific, pressing questions for a next-day response.

PHILOSOPHY
Many school subjects have math as "the sticking point." Math processes are typically cast in the abstract language of symbol manipulation with formal rules to memorize. Although this academic approach works for some students, even those who can recall and use this method have little idea what the equations MEAN. Instead, our session problem-solving will feature step-by-step reasoning rather than formulas, comprehension BEFORE computation. The goal? Fulfilling my URL designation "/oneliners" by offering clear, easy-to-follow, brief solutions.
Since 1987, what young minds have taught me in my thousands of sessions with them (both one-on-one and in the classroom) is that they respond to things that are simple, fun, and practical. They value pictures, stories, game-like "what if?" experiments, and real-world examples. They prefer handiwork over paperwork. Most importantly, students love Read more

Policies

Clients may cancel anytime for any reason at no charge! Students enjoy the lessons or they're free. Cost is often negotiable on a local case-by-case basis.

Travel Radius
Travels within 40 miles of Blacksburg, VA 24060
Background Check: Passed

"Very knowledgable and great teacher."

- Joy, Blacksburg, VA on 12/3/16

"Just like people said - excellent!"

- Mark, Babylon, NY on 10/8/16

"Patient Calculus Tutor"

- Cameron, Salem, VA on 9/21/16

"Great tutor"

- Adrian, Salem, VA on 6/15/16

"Knowledgeable and concerned about student progress"

- Zella, Wytheville, VA on 5/15/16

"Patient and Knowledgable Calc. Tutor"

- Christine, Moseley, VA on 4/11/16

"Responsive and reliable"

- Julie, Roanoke, VA on 2/28/16

"Excellence in Mathematics"

- Andrew, Blacksburg, VA on 2/21/16

"Making great headway with my son in Calculus at VT"

- Doreen, Blacksburg, VA on 10/16/15

"Responded to Our Request Quickly and Met My Son the Next Day"

- Deb, Radford, VA on 11/5/14

"Great Math Instructor"

- Karen, Christiansburg, VA on 8/9/13
Brad replied on 8/10/2013

Thank you kindly, Karen, for the generous assessment. Your son and I appreciated first-hand how a fully-labelled sketch can easily "re-frame" many of these SAT math puzzles. We had a lot of fun avoiding the time-consuming academic "reflex" of diving headlong into equations -- we even enjoyed a few chuckles regarding the value of these "simpler ways." It was a pleasant summer with your son and I will miss our routine.

The very best to both of you...

English:
Proofreading
Test Preparation:
ACT Math,
ACT Science,
GRE,
SAT Math

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.

Accounting

Extensive local tutoring has included both financial and managerial accounting principles for VT ACIS 2115-2116 and RU ACTG 211-212.

Accounting, simply stated, is the "language" used in recording business transactions. The simplest transaction is an actual lump-sum transfer of cash on a specific date. Most deals, however, take non-cash forms and are spread out over time -- sometimes over very long, even indeterminate timeframes. This is when accounting gets very interesting, requiring a deep understanding of the principles, assumptions, and estimates used in producing a particular accounting exhibit. It's NOT so much what the numbers ARE, but what the numbers MEAN. And the figures can mean VERY different things in different business situations! It's also helpful to notice when the accounting is sober & conservative and when it's "rosy" and overly-optimistic. I'd be of more practical help in the reading and understanding of accounting statements than in their actual preparation. I've also been requested to perform numerous quarterly audits.

In 1987, Virginia Tech saw fit to award me a Minor in Economics. As a practicing private investor from 1996 through 2006, I examined thousands of accounting exhibits for hundreds of companies and their annual reports describing their financial situations. During that same 10-year period, I wrote 172 pages of essays explaining each of my investments. My favorite investment writers are J.M. Keynes, Ben Graham, Phil Fisher, and Warren Buffett. It was fun to own Berkshire Hathaway shares from February 2000 through 2006.

ACT Math

Students can enjoy simple techniques to "re-frame" many of these ACT Math puzzles using a very different, non-academic approach. Our "toolkit" includes: cutting in half, rescaling, "seeing the offset," "stair-stepping," noting counter-examples, using the "middle-value," "spelling it out" for powers & probability patterns, numer/denom tracking, and system "levelling and cancelling." Our cost-free material contains hundreds of multiple-choice and "grid-in" problems. Typical sessions begin with a tutorial puzzle, followed by a review of test questions, and ending with a timed-test simulation (Goal: 1 answer per minute).

Our ACT sessions will impart a "down-to-earth", visual sense of how any triangles work. Would you like to be able to "see" the three sides and three angles of any triangle without fumbling with equations? This can be performed mentally within a minute. Given two sides and an angle, or two angles and a side, we can specify the three remaining unknowns within 5%. No calculator or tables are needed! We will use two simple approximations often overlooked. This will serve as a handy supplement to the laws of sine and cosine for non-right triangles. We'll see how squares and circles work -- the template for almost all spatial concepts. Geometry areas and volumes can be estimated with no formulas to remember! We will also "see" how most algebra stems from the y=x and y=x^2 relations.

ACT Science

What is "Science?" Simply put, science is the study of how things work: cause and effect. Therefore, science -- at its core -- is a laboratory business: test, measure, and deduce. Repeat to be sure. The 40-question ACT Science exam is designed to gauge the candidate's sense of this experimental process.

Several passages will describe the set-up, procedure, and results of experiments. In each of these scenarios, something is moving, growing, reacting, or changing. What's causing it and how much? Can the experiment be improved? Are we measuring the correct variable, in the best location, and in a suitable way? How do we know that the numbers are right? What could be corrupting our measurement process? What am I overlooking? What could I be doing wrong? This is the humble, disciplined, scientific "mind-set" I am privileged to teach students.

Three elements will lead to superior ACT Science scores:

(1) Careful, active reading -- what's happening and how? This may be the toughest aspect for ACT test-takers.
(2) Graph and table perception -- seeing flat lines, constant slopes, sudden changes, recurring trends, and "outliers."
(3) A solid, unified awareness of physical phenomena and their underlying causes -- why is this occuring?

Graphs and tables are where the shortcuts lie -- we'll look at those first. Reading involves asking the productive questions that stem from those very same graphs and tables. Physics acumen comes from experience -- I'll distill it all for you into a common framework. It will be a pleasure to mentor clients using my thousands of hours of power plant and laboratory test background. Real-world science is a dirty, sobering, and surprising business -- and that makes this field fascinating!

Algebra 2

Nearly 25% of tutoring time to date has been devoted to assisting Salem & Blacksburg High School students in this vital precalculus subject. RU MATH 138 has been a popular client class, too.

Picking up where Algebra 1 leaves off, the y=x^2 relation is the starting point for this subject. Learn to "stair-step," "cut in half," and to re-scale systems of equations to "even up" or "cancel." The square, circle, and triangle will form our "template" for all spatial concepts. Students will develop a handy "visual" sense of polynomials, sine waves, and the e^x and ln(x) curves. Algebra 2 overlaps with much of the precalculus description below.

Business

WyzAnt clients have included VT and RU business students for various courses. Business students will be able to draw from my own self-employment experience since 1990 and from my investment activities since 1996. International clients have also recently enlisted my assistance with business plan material and investment analyses through the world's largest freelance marketplace, Upwork (formerly oDesk). Great businesses exhibit certain traits that, when identified, merit investment interest and can be emulated and adapted to other business situations.

Calculus

Practical training is available for science-eng'r students (VT MATH 1225-6, RU MATH 151) and for business majors (VT MATH 1525-6, RU MATH 126). Other tutored courses have included VT MATH 1206, 2214, 2224. Calculus is the mathematics of change. Slope (a derivative) is all about observing differences at a particular point. Integration is simply a "fancy way of adding" over history. Think about your car's dashboard: the speedometer indicates the immediate velocity. How do we "integrate" the speed? Enter the odometer (an "integrator") -- it adds, or accumulates, the distance traveled. Automatic feedback controls for all kinds of devices and processes use slope detectors or integrators. Say a car's cruise control is set for 60 mph. Heading up a steep hill, the car speed drops quickly. That sudden difference in speed can trigger a differentiator or slope detector to "hit the gas" as well as downshift the "tranny" to recover the 60 mph speed.

Chemistry

It was enjoyable to make the "final four" of the 21 high-school teams competing at the Corning, NY chapter of the American Chemical Society's May 1981 "Chem Bowl". Virginia Tech favored me with a full 1st-year of advanced-placement (AP) chemistry credits. High-school-level chem is likely where I'd be more helpful.

Chemistry is all about the slots in an atom's electronic "outer-shell." We must also attend to concentrations & proportions. Lewis-diagram rules can "size-up" possible compounds, like using Tinker Toys or Legos. We'll also see bond angles and molecular shapes.

Differential Equations

Recent local tutoring for VT Math 2214 has included techniques of separation of variables, changing of variables, the Bernoulli substitution, and applying the integration factor e^kt. All these methods are designed to re-frame problems into more familiar and workable forms.

The "diff eq" systems where I'd be most helpful are the 1st- and 2nd-order linear systems that occur in nature. Examples include natural decay, temperature change, free-fall against air drag, charging capacitors, or a spring-mass system "playing catch" with its two energy forms. In higher-order systems, the lag of the 1st or 2nd order elements can dominate, simplifying the issue.

In 1987, Virginia Tech saw fit to award me a BSME, magna cum laude. Completing the Cooperative Education program favored me with 2000 hours of power plant performance-testing experience. Graduate school activities included passing the ME PhD Qualifying Exam (1987), as well as finishing 70 semester hours of MS and PhD coursework emphasizing real-world measurement and control systems. It was fun designing a low-hemolysis (0.04 mg Hb/dl pumped) pulsatile blood pump for cardiopulmonary-bypass use. I also enjoyed the lab teaching and grading of at least 50 ME undergraduates in the crafts of instrumentation, signal conditioning, microprocessor-PC interfacing, and technical report writing.

Economics

Economics boils down to scarcity and how people react to it. Good economic analysis considers both the numbers and psychology. Mediocre analysis uses only equations.

In 1987, Virginia Tech saw fit to award me a Minor in Economics. As a practicing private investor from 1996 through 2006, I examined thousands of accounting exhibits for hundreds of companies and their annual reports describing their economic situations. During that same 10-year period, I wrote 172 pages of essays explaining each of my investments. My favorite economic writers are J.M. Keynes, Ben Graham, Phil Fisher, and Warren Buffett. It was fun to own Berkshire Hathaway shares from February 2000 through 2006.

Electrical Engineering

What makes the ME an "Electro-Mechanical" Engineer? Building your OWN measurement-and-control circuits. I'd be most helpful working with low-voltage DC signals and layouts.

Our sessions can include gates, flip-flops, latches, one-shots, counters, comparators, 7-seg LED displays, transistors, diodes, capacitors, op-amps, & Darlingtons. Troubleshooting usually involves a poor connection, ground disparity, noise, voltage drift, heat sensitivity, or a time lag.

It was fun teaching a community-college lab course where several students built their own DC power supplies for their final exam, transforming, rectifying, filtering, and regulating voltage to "spec." It would be a pleasure to provide you with a "hands-on", workbench-like approach to your EE studies! Circuit schematics are available on request.

GRE

Having been favored with a GRE Quant score in the 97th percentile (770/800 scaling), our GRE math sessions will impart a "down-to-earth", visual sense of how the numbers and formulas work. Students can enjoy simple techniques to "re-frame" many of these GRE Math puzzles using a very different, non-academic approach. Our "toolkit" includes: cutting in half, rescaling, "seeing the offset," "stair-stepping," noting counter-examples, using the "middle-value," "spelling it out" for powers & probability patterns, num/denom tracking, and system "leveling and canceling."

Our cost-free material contains 240 multiple choice problems and over 300 "numeric entries." Typical sessions will begin with a tutorial puzzle, followed by a review of test questions, and ending with a timed-test simulation (Goal: 1 answer per minute). Almost all spatial concepts stem from circles and squares. Geometry areas and volumes can be estimated with no formulas to recall! We'll "see" how algebra comes from the y=x and y=x^2 relations.

Linear Algebra

Linear algebra tries to handle systems of multi-variable equations in matrix form. ME grads like myself must complete a sophomore-level course on the subject. Modern-control theory favors this matrix concept in senior/grad-level ME courses to treat even differential equations whether or not they are "Laplace transformed" into algebraic form. If you have to complete courses like these, I've taken a few and can guide you.

One key coping mechanism is to lay out your system to minimize variables: "triangular"-ize the matrix so it may be "back-solved." By rearranging and by cautiously rounding-off certain factors, a big matrix can be simplified into "4x4" elements. The "4x4's" can then be streamlined to "3x3's" that are solved using the ever-handy "Cramer's rule." Please send me your matrix and I'll make some next-day remarks on it at no cost.

Mechanical Engineering

In 1987, Virginia Tech awarded me a BSME, magna cum laude.
Completing the Cooperative Education program favored me with 2000 hours of power plant performance-testing experience. Graduate school activities included passing the ME PhD Qualifying Exam (1987), as well as finishing 70 semester hours of MS and PhD coursework emphasizing real-world measurement and control systems.

It was fun designing a low-hemolysis (0.04 mg Hb/dl pumped) pulsatile blood pump for cardiopulmonary-bypass use. I also enjoyed the lab teaching and grading of at least 50 ME undergrads in instrumentation, signal conditioning, microprocessor-PC interfacing, and technical report writing.

Physical Science

What is "Science?" Simply put, science is the study of how things work: cause and effect. Therefore, science -- at its core -- is a laboratory business: test, measure, and deduce. Repeat to be sure.

In most experiments, something is moving, growing, reacting, or changing. What's causing it and how much? Can the experiment be improved? Are we measuring the correct variable, in the best location, and in a suitable way? How do we know that the numbers are right? What could be corrupting our measurement process? What am I overlooking? What could I be doing wrong? This is the humble, disciplined, scientific "mind-set" I am privileged to teach students.

Scientific acumen comes from experience -- I'll distill it all for you into a common framework. It will be a pleasure to mentor clients using my thousands of hours of power plant and laboratory test background. Real-world science is a dirty, sobering, and surprising business -- and that makes this field quite fascinating!

Physics

Extensive physics tutoring has included several clients enrolled in RU PHYS 111-112, Roanoke College PHYS 103-4, and VT PHYS 2305.

Having been favored with a BS in mechanical engineering, as well as power plant and laboratory experience, our physics sessions will impart a "down-to-earth", visual sense of how matter & energy move and interact. Introductory physics can be boiled down to about two dozen concepts. We will use word-pictures (eating, driving a car, spending money, TV shows and movies, sports) and sketch lots of diagrams to “see” the physics. We will see how the numbers work by “tweaking the knobs” of the formulas. We can draw from the “hands-on” mechanical engineering experience I've been favored with: including 2000 hours in power plants testing equipment, plus 2000 hours in laboratories teaching electronics, vibrations, water-air-heat flow, and building a low-hemolysis, pulsatile blood pump for cardiopulmonary-bypass use.

Precalculus

Final exam client preparation has included RU MATH 138.
Our pre-calculus sessions will impart a "down-to-earth", visual sense of how any triangles work. Would you like to be able to "see" the three sides and three angles of any triangle without using a calculator or table of values? This can be done mentally under a minute. Given two sides and an angle, or two angles and a side, we can specify the three remaining unknowns within +/- 5%. No calculator or tables are needed! We will use two simple, overlooked approximations. This will serve as a supplement to the laws of sine and cosine for non-right triangles. Polynomials can be "eyeballed" and factored with simpler methods you may like. "Asymptotes" are simply viewed as "fences" on the x-y grid. Students will also benefit from a "hands-on" look at sine waves, and the e^x and ln(x) functions.

Proofreading

Several recent thesis and journal article authors have benefited from my editing and proofreading services -- both local university and international clients through one of the largest freelance platforms in the world. It has also been a privilege to teach dozens of ME lab undergrads the craft of writing technical reports. My broad engineering and business background can go to work for you, too!

SAT Math

Students can enjoy simple techniques to "re-frame" many of these SAT Math puzzles using a very different, non-academic approach. Our "toolkit" includes: cutting in half, rescaling, "seeing the offset," "stair-stepping," noting counter-examples, using the "middle-value," "spelling it out" for powers & probability patterns, numer/denom tracking, and system "levelling and cancelling." Our cost-free material contains hundreds of multiple-choice and "grid-in" problems. Typical sessions begin with a tutorial puzzle, followed by a review of test questions, and ending with a timed-test simulation (Goal: 1 answer per minute).

Having been favored with a BS in mechanical engineering, as well as power plant and laboratory experience, our SAT Math sessions will impart a "down-to-earth", visual sense of how squares and circles work. Almost all spatial concepts stem from circles and squares. Geometry areas and volumes can be estimated with no fancy formulas to recall! We will also "see" how most of algebra comes from the y=x and y=x^2 templates. I've enjoyed teaching thousands of sessions since the late '80s, both in large classes and in the home on a wide variety of topics. Good teachers care about people, are good examples, know their subject, and are terribly interesting. Students deserve that.

Trigonometry

Nearly 100 hours of WyzAnt tutoring has been provided to Salem & Blacksburg High School students on "trig" principles. RU MATH 138 has been another popular class. Our trigonometry sessions will impart a "down-to-earth", visual sense of how triangles work. Trig functions are used to "see" vectors and simple harmonic motion.

Trigonometry is all about "triangles simplified." Would you like to be able to "see" the three sides and three angles of any triangle without using a calculator or table of values? This can be done mentally under a minute. Given two sides and an angle, or two angles and a side, we can specify the three remaining unknowns within +/- 5%. No calculator or tables are needed! We will use two simple, overlooked approximations.

Virginia Tech
mechanical engineer
Virginia Tech
Graduate Coursework

Education

Virginia Tech (mechanical engineer)

Virginia Tech (Graduate Coursework)

Very knowledgable and great teacher. — Brad really helps my daughter with her Advance Placement Calculus course materials. She was struggling before but is now much more confident because of his help. ...

— Joy, Blacksburg, VA on 12/3/16

Hourly rate

Standard Hourly Rate: $45.00

Clients may cancel anytime for any reason at no charge! Students enjoy the lessons or they're free. Cost is often negotiable on a local case-by-case basis.

Travel policy

Brad will travel within 40 miles of Blacksburg, VA 24060.