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Dr. Tae is a skateboarder, physicist, teacher, and digital artist. He earned his bachelor’s degree in physics from the Georgia Institute of Technology and his Ph.D. in physics from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He has held faculty positions at Lake Forest College, DePaul University, and Northwestern University. Outside of higher education, he has served as an advisor to Puget Sound Community School. Dr. Tae’s unorthodox use of skateboarding as an example of learning landed him an invitation to speak at the inaugural TEDxEastsidePrep conference where he gave a talk called “Can skateboarding save our schools?” As a skateboarder, he’s best known for doing too many 360 flips (which his fellow skaters have comically dubbed “Tae Flips”), earning him the nickname “Dr. Tre”. Dr. Tae occasionally thinks about producing The Physics of Skateboarding with Dr. Tae (a video series which combines his interests in science, skateboarding, and education) but never actually gets around to making more videos. When the Los Angeles Times needed someone to explain the physics behind Jake Brown’s slam on the MegaRamp at X Games XIII, they called Dr. Tae. His unique expertise also caught the attention of Robomodo, the video game studio where Dr. Tae redesigned the control system for the wireless skateboard peripheral used with Tony Hawk: SHRED. As an independent software developer, Dr. Tae has created several iOS apps: Not YYZ (a whimsical musical app based on “YYZ” by the band Rush), NBDbyMe (a goal setting/tracking app for skateboarders), Fluent Numerals (an app to help people learn numbers in many different languages), and PanoSlicer (a utility that helps people share panoramas on Instagram).

“The Way of Dr. Tae”
by Ryan Smith
Photos by Clayton Hauck