James Hedrick ’92, senior lecturer in electrical and computer engineering, is a native of New York City who grew up on Long Island. A longtime amateur radio operator, he got his FCC commercial radio license as a teenager and designed, installed and repaired public safety radios and marine electronics.
His path to Union was a circuitous one, and includes stints at several colleges and working at various jobs, such as, at one point, managing a dairy farm. He entered Union as a transfer student in the days when the College had an evening division, while he was working full time and married with a family. After earning his engineering degree, he spent three years as a senior engineer with the New York State Thruway Authority, designing and helping to implement the new E-ZPass electronic toll collection system to replace the aging electromechanical system.
Hedrick joined the Union faculty in 1995. His teaching interests range from microcontrollers and circuit theory to electronics and digital communications. He lives in Stuyvesant, Columbia County, with his wife, Edith, a pianist and organist, and their rescue cat, Piper, “a real talker.” They have four children, six grandchildren and one great grandchild.
FIRST APP YOU LOOK AT IN THE MORNING:
I don’t look at apps. In the morning, I try to say hello to my wife, scratch the kitty cat and get breakfast going. I try not to be distracted by electronic equipment.
ONE BOOK YOU HAVE READ MULTIPLE TIMES:
I like to learn, and I don’t like to spend all my time reading technical and scientific stuff. I’ve enjoyed the Hobbit series, and books by Barack Obama and the economist Robert Reich. But the ones I’ve read the most are Harry Potter books. They can be enjoyed on a number of levels, with and without my grandkids. Sprinkled amid the entertaining story is some useful philosophy in terms of good and evil, ways we strive be as people and how we’d like to treat each other.
BEST ADVICE YOU EVER RECEIVED:
When I was a child, an adult told me, “We should always make haste slowly.” When you initially think about that, it doesn’t make sense. But if you make a decision too quickly, you’re probably going to make poor one. When pressured by others to make decisions, we always want to do things quickly and move on, but it usually works very well to say, “Let me think about it and get back to you.”
FAVORITE SPOT ON CAMPUS:
Jackson’s Garden. It’s quiet and peaceful, and we all need quiet and peace in our lives.
I usually have a combination of oatmeal and wheat germ with some nuts and fruit. I feel it’s my most important meal. One should never skip breakfast.
NETFLIX OR AMAZON:
Neither. I watch very little TV except for, periodically, shows on PBS.
The one I’ve listened to most is “Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me!” I have a very long ride to work, an hour and a quarter give or take, depending on weather or traffic.
ONE SKILL YOU WISH YOU HAD:
At one point I bought a cello and began learning to play. I’d like to learn more. What would the world be without music? I don’t even want to think about it.
ANOTHER SUBJECT YOU WISH YOU COULD TEACH:
That’s not hard for me to answer because I get a lot of joy from teaching. I would be perfectly happy to learn and teach something else – religion, philosophy, English, history. As you know, teaching is learning with other people. It’s basically unlimited.
MOST CREATIVE EXCUSE YOU HEARD FOR A LATE ASSIGNMENT:
Once I had a student tell me that her dog had eaten her homework. I raised an eyebrow and said, “OK, when can you get it to me?” I’m pretty flexible – I know things come up – and she did get it to me. Then I was grading papers, and our cat decided to shred them. So I had to go and explain to the student with the dog what had happened to her paper, again. We had a good laugh together. That changed how I respond when a student comes to me with a dog-ate-my-homework excuse.