Before Dr. Burdick became a teacher at Mt. Greylock in the Fall of ‘98, he worked with a company affiliated with NASA, developing infrared telescope systems. The Greylock Echo sat down with Dr. Burdick to discuss his education, his family, and life before his current job.
Echo: So, Dr. Burdick, it’s well known that you’ve worked at Mt. Greylock and NASA, but have you had any other jobs?
Dr. Burdick: I didn’t actually work for NASA; I worked for a company that had contracts with NASA, so the NASA stuff was never more than about fifty percent of my job.
Echo: What was the company’s name?
Dr. Burdick: It was called Frontier Technologies.
Echo: What did you do there?
Dr. Burdick: Space-based infrared telescope systems. Some of them were for NASA, and some of them were for other people, like the Department of Commerce.
Echo: What was one of your most memorable moments working for Frontier Technologies?
Dr. Burdick: When I was down at NASA and [the satellite] Kobe had just been launched and we just realized that the data coming for Kobe was groundbreaking in terms of the science. Just realizing that we were all part of that was amazing.
Echo: I heard that you also worked at a grocery store for a little bit. Is that true?
Dr. Burdick: Oh I did, yeah, when I first got my PhD, and I was looking around and applying for jobs, but my school teaching and research assistantships had run out because I got my PhD. For a couple months, while I was applying for jobs, I was working as a cashier in a grocery store. They wanted me to stay but I said ‘no, no, this is really going to be temporary.’
Echo: Where did you go to college?
Dr. Burdick: Undergraduate was Williams, and graduate school was Boston University.
Echo: What made you decide to return to the classroom?
Dr. Burdick: I always liked teaching and I always wanted to be a teacher. I never really thought I’d end up at high school. I thought I’d end up at college. But I ended up here and I love it. I did teach college for about ten years part time, like [sic] during the summers and evenings.
Echo: What do you like to do in your free time?
Dr. Burdick: Lots of different things. Biking, gardening, reading comic books, reading science fiction, and pondering the nature of the universe. The usual.
Echo: When did you meet your wife?
Dr. Burdick: That’s an interesting question. We met at a karate studio in Boston. She swept me off my feet.
Echo: How long did it take you to get your black belt?
Dr. Burdick: All told, let’s see… I took sort of a break for a while, probably about six years. Maybe even longer. Actually, maybe more like eight years because when [my wife and I] got married and had kids there wasn’t a lot of time, so for a while, I stopped.
Echo: Where are your kids now?
Dr. Burdick: My daughter is in Boston and soon to be moving to St. Croix to work for the nature conservancy in July. And my son is in college at MCLA. He’s going into the family business probably, so he’ll be a teacher.
Echo: Do you know what he wants to teach?
Dr. Burdick: Probably history.
Echo: And finally, what’s your favorite color?
Dr. Burdick: Blue, the standard color.