This article originally appeared in the winter 2016 Harker Magazine.
Eric Nelson has the distinction of teaching nine different courses at the upper school, seven on a regular basis. He is the computer science department chair, runs the robotics program, and teaches a variety of science classes, including astronomy and physics.
Though born and (mostly) raised in the Southern California town of Downey, Nelson spent his middle and high school years in the Los Gatos mountains (and attended Los Gatos High School), and he keeps those roots alive by living in Boulder Creek.
He and his wife, Kathleen, have five children between them, including Chandler, who graduated from Harker last year, and two grandchildren. His pithy answers to our questions illustrate his humor and directness.
What makes you feel like a kid again?
What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever gotten?
A professor, Dr. Michael Zeilik, said, “Be simple and direct.”
What are you doing when you feel most alive?
Standing quietly in the forest and just listening. Walking on an isolated beach, and again, just listening. Being able to focus on all the sensations, sights, smells and sounds where most people would simply find silence.
In what way are you above average?
I was an astrophysicist. What else do I need?
What is something that you pretend to understand when you really don’t?
Why do you do what you do?
Because I enjoy it. Life is too short to do something every day that you don’t enjoy doing.