The Art Institute of Pittsburgh — Online Division
Never say never. Jay Oslakovic , Mathematics Instructor , The Art Institute of Pittsburgh — Online Division
Was there a defining moment when you knew you were destined to become a creative professional?
In high school, I designed and built a Mini Baja off-road racing vehicle that earned sixth place in a national competition. That’s when I realized that I understood science and design well enough to pursue a career in mechanical engineering.
How do you weave your professional background into the classroom experience?
I share my professional design experience with students and explain how it relates to class concepts and material. I love sharing projects I’ve worked on—including the successes and challenges I’ve experienced. When possible, I provide real-world examples to help students see how the material relates to their fields.
What class assignment exemplifies your approach to teaching and mentoring?
In mathematics class, I conduct a pre-test and post-test. The pre-test assesses the skills and strengths students have at the start, and shows where we need to focus our efforts toward improving. The post-test lets us reassess what we’ve learned, reflect on the progress we’ve made, and determine a course of action for continuous improvement. That’s the process I believe every professional should use throughout their career to evaluate their own unique strengths, skillsets, and areas to improve.
How does collaboration contribute to students’ success?
Teamwork is critical to a student’s success. In the real world we work with others, learning from them and sharing our own skills and perspectives. The result is a better overall product that incorporates a range of viewpoints. I incorporate collaboration into my classes every chance I get.
What’s the most important thing you impart to students to help them succeed in class and the real world?
Work ethic, commitment, and continuous improvement are the basis for success in any career.
What’s the most critical advice you would offer any student embarking on a creative career?
Never say never. Change is the only constant in your career. Be open-minded, committed, and willing to try new things, pursue new paths, and embark on new challenges.