One might call Joseph Scott Jones the most nontraditional of nontraditional students.
For 11 years, the 38-year-old Jones taught science at MartinsburgHigh School. Today, he is a student �€a junior chemical engineering major in West VirginiaUniversitys College of Engineering and Mineral Resources.
“Leaving an established position is not easy,”said Jones, who taught at his hometown high school from 1989-2000.”However, I am looking forward to the challenges that a career in chemical engineering has to offer, particularly in the area of health care.”
Jones was born in 1964 in Martinsburg, the seventh of Phillip and Virginia Joneseight children. He graduated from ShepherdCollege in 1989 with a bachelors degree in secondary education with an emphasis on science.
He joined the faculty at Martinsburg High after graduation, teaching courses in chemistry, physics and technology during his career. When he wasnt teaching, he was studying advanced math and science. As he increased his knowledge in those areas, he developed and taught an advanced physics course that helped students apply calculus in their science classes.
The West Virginia Department of Education later recruited Jones to train other science teachers in the principles of technology. It was during this time that he developed an interest in engineering that led him back to school.
“The more I taught advanced physics subjects such as quantum mechanics and thermodynamics, the more I wanted to return to college to study engineering,”he said.”This desire became clear when I started training other teachers about technology.”
Since coming to WVU , Jones has been a student research assistant to associate professor Charter Stinespring, helping to develop techniques for the production and characterization of damage-free surfaces on semi-insulating and conducting silicon carbide. Silicon carbide tolerates heat, and this research could lead to the use of the compound in microchips for jet engines and other equipment that runs under elevated temperatures.
The former teachers accomplishments as a student have not gone unnoticed.
He was recently awarded the engineering colleges second CTC Foundation Scholarship, which covers tuition and fees for an in-state student who is a rising junior or senior. The scholarship was made possible by a regional development grant from CTC Foundation, a national organization that promotes innovative, scientific, technological and humanistic principles to enhance economic progress and quality of life.
Jones is also a recipient of the Academy of Chemical Engineers Scholarship in recognition of outstanding academic achievement.
“Hes a hard worker, very motivated and a self-starter, just exactly what youre looking for in terms of a student,”Stinespring said.”He has really fit in well with my graduate students.”
Jones has equal praise for Stinespring and the chemical engineering program.
“Studying chemical engineering has been challenging,”he said.”The program is well-structured and achieves a high level of learning by incorporating design projects that increase in complexity each semester. The instructors make it a point to foster the academic growth of each individual student.”
After completing his degree in chemical engineering, Jones said he is interested in pursuing a career in medicine or pharmaceuticals.
“The aspect of teaching I miss the most is helping people,”he said.”If I went into medicine and used my skills there, I would have the same feeling of accomplishment I had as a teacher.”