Carnegie Mellon University

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November 21, 2023

Tartan Teacher in His Second Act

By Ann Lyon Ritchie

College of Engineering alumnus Gerald Ng works at Newton South High School near Boston, Massachusetts, where he is a science teacher, head coach of the science team and co-chair of the diversity, equity and inclusion committee.

Gerald sought a career that would make a difference. At CMU, he studied signal processing at the College of Engineering, and earned his bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering and computer engineering in 1997. After graduation, he explored ways to improve hearing at Boston University, specifically studying how sound helps humans locate objects. He achieved a Ph.D. in biomedical engineering in 2005.

He expected to continue in research.

Through a friend, Gerald heard Boston Public Schools had a temporary job opening that was hard to fill. The candidate would need to teach both math and science and work with underserved youth.

Intrigued, Gerald agreed to an interview. He took the job and stayed to teach for 15 years at Boston’s Charlestown High School, where his courses ranged from remedial math to Advanced Placement physics.

“I am grateful that CMU has been a step in the journey that I’ve taken to get here as a teacher," Gerald says. “From the skills that I’ve learned to the relationships I’ve developed and kept — my ECE professors and peers, my dorm mates, the faculty from my English minor and the Asian Christian Fellowship. I wouldn’t be the person or educator that I am today without my time at CMU.”

As a scientist, one of the few male teachers at the school and the son of parents who emigrated from Hong Kong, he was able to connect with certain students who other teachers struggled to reach.

“We had immigrants from all around the world,” Gerald says. “For them to see me, hear me talk about going to college and have a Ph.D. was, in their minds, me living the American dream.”

Three years ago, Gerald accepted his current teaching position where the focus is physics and engineering.

“If I had stayed in research, I might have accomplished a couple of things that may or may not have made a difference,” he says. “By fostering a love for STEM in my students, I feel like I accomplish much more than I ever would have on my own.”

Story originally published here.