A new Hoekstra on campus: alumnus turned professor

Evangeline Colarossi — Staff Writer

Three years after graduating from Dordt College, Tayler Hoekstra is returning to teach in the physics department. Two of Dordt’s physics professors left last year, leaving a space to be filled and a local Dordt grad willing to fill it.

Hoekstra now works alongside many of the professors that instructed his classes while he was a biomedical engineering student.

“Coming back to something that’s familiar has made the transition easy in many ways,” said Hoekstra. “It feels fresh too, it’s fun to be in something that is comfortable, yet something different.”

During the past three years, Hoekstra has completed his master’s degree through the University of South Dakota and is hoping to complete his doctorate through their program.

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After graduating, Hoekstra still visited frequently to attend campus events and visit family. During one of these visits, Professor Ethan Brue approached him about teaching at Dordt.

“At first I thought he was joking, I didn’t think I was qualified at the time,” Hoekstra said. But after much prayer, seeing the needs of the engineering department, and knowing what the community was truly like, Hoekstra applied for—and later accepted—the position.

His doctorate project will focus on motion capture analysis and its use as a diagnostic tool to relate motion to someone’s physical health. Dordt has its own motion-capture lab from past summer research by Dr. Kayt Frisch, so Hoekstra hopes that this will be something he can continue in the future to enable students to have research in this area before graduate school.

Because Hoekstra is just starting his doctorate, he doesn’t have a full course load to teach. He is teaching the Physics 215 course, which focuses on introductory algebra-based physics topics, and an introductory engineering lab to teach software use and basic programming techniques.

Hoekstra’s biggest concern is time management. He’s focusing on trying to find the balance between his doctorate studies, family, and teaching.

“Things need to be graded,” he said, “but life needs to happen too.”

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