“Math Guy” Tutor and Geometric Models

Dan Suttin is a math tutor with the Developmental Math Lab at San Antonio College. He also enjoys the art of making Geometric Models.

By Guest Blogger: Dan Suttin

First and foremost, I would like to say that I have found the level of course work in the Math Department here at San Antonio College to be excellent, and the quality of teaching as well. My favorite course –as a student—was College Algebra. Although I had taken a similar course many years ago, I found that 95% of the material was quite new to me, and I absorbed it like a sponge. Since working as a tutor in the lab, it seems like I have been taking the course over and over again for almost three years, and I’m learning the material more and more deeply as I go.

There are three different College Algebra courses to choose from here at SAC, depending upon one’s career objective and degree plan. Students use three different text books, as well as a computerized, online course to aid learning. There are many different professors teaching the course, and each professor has his or her own preference as to which topics within the curriculum should be accentuated. Some professors even have different methods of approaching the same topic. For example, there are different techniques for using row operations to solve systems of equations with matrices or for evaluating 3×3 determinants. Professors use varying techniques for testing to see if the graph of a rational function crosses its horizontal assymptote, and some stress different approaches to working with logarithms and exponentials. It is my job, as a tutor, to understand where the professors are coming from, and to adapt to the teaching methods they are using.

Dan Suttin 2

The “Big Ball”, created by Dan Suttin, was on exhibit in the Oppenheimer Center (formerly called the AIC) from January 2010 through March 2011.

In addition to being a “math guy”, I am also interested in 3-D Geometric models and constructions as an art form. If you stepped foot in the Oppenheimer Center (formerly called the AIC) anytime from January 2010 through March 2011, you would have seen the “Big Ball” I had on exhibit there. I have since opened another exhibit called the “OCTA-TETRA Museum” located near the intersection of Guadalupe and Frio. Learn more.

Also, I recently presented a webinar for The American Mathematical Association of Two-Year Colleges (AMATYC) about “OCTA-TETRA Constructions and Polyhedron Models.” Watch now.  

I can truly say that it has been a pleasure working as a tutor at SAC and sharing my passion for teaching mathematics with students who are so eager to learn.

About the Blogger:
Dan Suttin is a tutor in the Developmental Math Lab (MCCH 121 and 119) at SAC. He assists students with math work in all the courses from Basic Mathematics (Math 0300) all the way through Pre-calculus (Math 2412). After working as a math instructor at the Healy-Murphy Center, an alternantive high school in San Antonio, Dan retired. Upon his retirement, he heard of SAC’s Senior Citizens’ Program where seniors over the age of 65 can audit courses for free.

Dan then decided to enroll in College Algebra (Math 1414) and Trigonometry (then Math 1316, but now called Pre-calculus, Math 2412). Along the way, he realized there was a need for math tutors. So, he applied and was hired. He has worked as a tutor at SAC since the early months of 2010 and continues to help countless SAC students succeed in math courses each semseter.


Core4STEM Expo

Analisa Garza
Guest Blogger

Last week the San Antonio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce teamed up with representatives from Fortune 500 companies, governmental agencies, universities and colleges, and local high schools to host the third annual CORE4STEM EXPO at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center. The EXPO is part of the Chamber’s STEM initiative to encourage students by increasing awareness and interest in college and career goals with a long term effect of attracting higher paying jobs to San Antonio thus strengthening and increasing the cities prosperity (“Core 4 stem,” 2012).

Approximately 2,000 7th and 8th graders had the opportunity to broaden their understanding of STEM college and career goals by participating in hands-on activities, viewing demonstrations, and hearing from guest speakers including Jose Hernandez, the first Latino astronaut.

Thanks to the coordinating efforts of Helen Torres, SAC Director of Partnerships and Extended Services, and her staff, San Antonio College had the opportunity to participate in the EXPO by hosting hundreds of students with learner-centered hands-on sessions in STEM fields.

Students were introduced to the world of “Polyhedron and OCTA-TETRA Models” by Dan Suttin, SAC Math Lab tutor, where they learned the connections between these shapes and their applications to careers in architecture, engineering, design, art and mathematics.They were able to apply cyber security principles through simulated programs led by Troy Touchette, chair of Computer Information Systems, where they defended computers from hackers.

They also visited five activity tables led by SAC STEM students where they were introduced to multiple engineering careers including Bio Engineering using equipment provided by the SAC Biology Department and Geothermal Engineering using models provided by Adelante Tejas. Following these activities the students participated in Q&A sessions with Dr. Dan Dimitriu, Program Coordinator of SAC Engineering, and current SAC engineering students Kat Bently and Christopher Woods.

At the completion of each session the SAC College Connections team distributed buttons, backpacks, T-shirts, and information regarding the STEM programs available to their age group on our campus.

This event was a great success for our city and due to the collaborative efforts of all the STEM affiliated departments on our campus; it was a wonderful representation of the opportunities available to students through San Antonio College.


Analisa Garza is the MESA Center Coordinator.