Teacher Profile: Mr. Austin


Mr. Austin with his “greatest achievements”

Emily Yuan, Editor

Having worked at Kent for 14 years, Mr. Austin currently teaches in the math department and teaches Advanced Studies BC Calculus and Introduction to Calculus. He also serves as a dorm affiliate in North Dorm after living in Case for many years with his family. 

One little-known fact about Mr. Austin is that, before his career as a teacher, he worked as a researcher in NASA, where he explored astronomy. In particular, he examined how Io, Jupiter’s innermost moon, interacted with Jupiter’s magnetic field. Volcanically active, Io produces gas from tectonic activity. Although its atmosphere is slowly dissipating, it is constantly replenished from the inside. When Io is hit by the solar wind, there is either a transfer of momentum or transfer or charge. The plasma, an ionized fluid, around Jupiter is tilted to align with Jupiter’s magnetic field, so twice every nine hours, a plasma storm collides with Io. The collision reveals insight about plasma physics that is impossible to observe from experiments on Earth. “Fluid dynamics are some of the most complicated problems in physics, and plasma physics takes that complexity and combines it with electromagnetic fields,” Mr. Austin shared. As the first step in fusion energy research, plasma physics is significant because it is the key to producing safe, abundant, carbon-free electricity.

Having always known he wanted to be a teacher, Mr. Austin began passing on his knowledge in mathematics and physics after working at NASA. He describes teaching as an excuse to develop relationships with students and hopes that students walk out of his class with the confidence that they are able to tackle something hard. As Mr. Austin put it, “students are much more capable than they think they are.” 

Aside from helping students thrive academically, Mr. Austin is an active member of the Kent community which he loves. He runs the bell ringing program in the winter and assists with golf in the spring. He’s also an active participant in the concert band, where he plays the trumpet and the french horn and enjoys seeing students work towards their passion in music. 

“It is as true today as it was the day I visited Kent, when it really struck me that all kids here seemed to understand they were here for a reason, and they took that seriously,” Mr. Austin reflected.