Dr. Carlos Borges * Naval Postgraduate School
Thursday, August 25, 2005
*STUDENT GUIDE 2005* Life's Lessons
A week ago, Dr. Carlos Borges wore a kilt. Today, however, the Naval Postgraduate School math professor is dressed in more traditional garb—denim and a blue and white button-down shirt.
Borges competes professionally in Highland Games events around the US. In 2002, he won the heavy hammer throw event—slinging a 22-pound hammer 89 feet—in the Masters World Championship games, and placed third overall.
Most recently, he kilted up for Monterey’s annual Scottish Games & Celtic Festival, and placed seventh in the men’s professional division.
“I like the informal-ness of the games,” he says. “A bunch of crazy, fat guys in skirts throwing stuff. What other sport can you say, ‘Here, hold my beer, I’m up.’”
Do his students make fun of the fact that he wears a kilt in his free time?
“Absolutely,” he says.
It’s not a typical hobby for a math teacher at the prestigious Navy institution. But Borges, who has been at NPS for almost 15 years, doesn’t come across as a typical linear algebra and numerical analysis professor. He’s funny and animated and outspoken. He says he teaches future Navy engineers in similar style.
“I draw on the tables,” he says. “I stack chairs. They find it quite comical when I jump from place to place. There are many different styles of teaching. Mine just happens to be really animated because that’s who I am.”
It has paid off for Borges. In June, he was awarded the Rear Admiral John Jay Schieffelin Award for Excellence in Teaching. It’s presented by the students to one professor each year.
Asked why, in his opinion, the students chose him, Borges cracks wise.
“They wanted to see me wear a suit,” he says. And for the record, he did wear a black suit, and a white shirt, but no tie.
Borges is serious about helping his students learn.
“I try to teach in a way so that they not only understand it, but they understand why it is important,” he says. “I like to get up there and interact a lot in class. I get really obnoxious when they are not talking enough.”
Borges’ parents were Portuguese. “I feel incredibly privileged to be born here,” he says, explaining his admiration for NPS students and their choice to serve their country.
“You certainly can’t sit around, waxing poetic about your opinions about Somalia because someone was there,” he says. “I respect the hell out of them for what they do.”