My name is James Harper, and I am motivated by what can change the world. While there are many ways to do this, I believe that the most effective are educating youth and engineering societies so that they can develop sustainably and equitably. I enjoy and strive to give youth the skills they need to succeed and help communities develop so that their members have good opportunities throughout their lives.
My experience has focused on teaching grades 9 through graduate-level university students in the areas of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), which include computer programming. Most of what we teach is project-based learning.
In engineering, my experience has focused on developing the capacities and infrastructure of communities in the developing world with regard to potable water, permanent housing and sanitation. Most of what I work on is at the base of Maslow’s Hierarchy: the basic needs of human society.
As a professional, I am a Mechanical Engineer with my Master of Science from UC San Diego, graduating with specialities in solar and wind power production and computer-aided design and analysis. I aspire to working as an engineer in a renewable energies field, hopefully wind or solar power. However, I also have many interests in the aerospace field, specifically in the design of turbine engines.
As a community member, I am a member of the San Diego Mountain Rescue Team as well as the Bear Mountain Ski Patrol. Many weekends throughout the year, I am either training or working as a search and rescue member or performing first aid on the ski slopes. I absolutely love serving my community and learning how to work effectively in the wilderness.
In my free time, I love to do anything outdoors. But, I particularly enjoy hiking, mountain biking and kayaking. I am always up for an impromptu trip to anywhere and everywhere, as I find nothing more rewarding than traveling the globe and photographing the simply beautiful areas of the world.
I also guide backpacking trips whenever I can. I am currently a guide for the Sierra Club, San Diego Chapter and am applying to be an instructor for the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS). Teaching and the outdoors are two of my basic passions, and guiding is their perfect combination.
One particularly exciting time in my life was when I studied abroad in New Zealand at the University of Auckland, where I met some amazing people, some incredibly unique species and traveled nearly the entire country. It was definitely one of the best times in my life! While abroad, I also found time to make a solo trip through Singapore, Indonesia, Cambodia and Vietnam, which was an amazing, eye-opening experience.
I always consider myself a student, as I love to learn new things and expand my knowledge on all subjects. However, I’ve always found languages particularly fascinating. I have studied Spanish extensively and spoke it regularly at work when I worked as a tutor. I also have studied Japanese and Latin. I am currently, though sporadically, teaching myself Portuguese in my free time (which I have little of).