I was one of those kids that loved looking at maps and big tables of numbers, so the LA Times weather page was my morning favorite. I suppose that's where I first developed an interest in weather. Later in my teenage years as a surfer, I learned that wind over the ocean caused swells to form. I was then always trying to figure out how stormy it was going to be over the Pacific Ocean so I could get an early jump on incoming swells. This was difficult back in the 80s, before the internet. I also bought my first weather radio so I could know how the beach conditions were going to be before heading out to the beach. No web cams at that time.
I never had plans of being a meteorologist growing up, though. This changed after I took a class in "Weather and Climate" at my local community college. It was the first class that I actually looked forward to attending, and I asked lots of questions during class. At the end of the semester the instructor asked that anyone interested speak with him if we were thinking of majoring in meteorology so he can advise on a 4-year school to attend. I went up to speak with him and he told me about San Jose State, which along with UCLA was one of two four-year schools in California offering a B.S. degree in meteorology. Since it was clear to me that I wanted to major in meteorology, I took the opportunity to "leave the nest" and move from Los Angeles up north to San Jose to study meteorology at SJSU.
I took a visit to the department in the spring of 1989 for an orientation. I still remember the hospitality of the department and the attentiveness towards me of the professors in planning my courses in the years that were to come. I was impressed and felt valued by the department. Also, I remember the department synoptic meteorology laboratory, and seeing more weather maps in one place than I'd ever seen before in my life!
I spent the next three years 1989 - 1992 doing my B.S., and then after a one year break the next three years 1994 - 1996 doing my M.S. Needless to say, I had a high impression of the department. The instruction was very thorough, yet practical, with lots of "hands on" personal attention. The course work covered all of the important areas of meteorology - from the basic theoretical principles to their application to weather prediction, climate change, instrumentation and measurement, air pollution, and uses of computer programming in meteorology. The instructors were all very approachable. Most of all, there was a close camaraderie with the other students in the department - many of my closest friends today are from my SJSU years at the department. One remarkable thing I notice in my visits to the department since my graduation is that the closeness with the instructors and friendship between the students have remained the same as when I was there. This makes learning fun, and is one the best things about the department.
Since graduating from the department with my M.S. in 1996, I went on for a PhD at Stanford University in Environmental Engineering, which I finished in 2003. In fact, it was a department professor - Professor Bornstein, my B.S. and M.S. advisor - who recommended me to my PhD advisor at Stanford. After my PhD, I did a year of research work involving weather prediction models at the National Center for Environmental Prediction (NCEP), which is outside of Washington D.C. Today, I am a private consultant doing a wide variety of work related to air pollution prediction and management, as well as wind speed assessment for purposes of wind energy production. I am also in the process of getting my certification as a consulting meteorologist through the American Meteorological Society. From time to time, I also teach courses in air pollution at the SJSU meteorology department.
In summary, my experiences at the SJSU Meteorology have been exceptionally positive and have shaped who I am today both professionally and personally.