Laurel Ridge’s intimate class sizes and academic freedom are a winning formula for our new engineering professor, Alex Peebles.
Dr. Peebles started working for Laurel Ridge as an adjunct in fall 2021, and was hired as a full-time professor in spring. His enthusiasm for the opportunity to engage with our engineering students is obvious.
“I love working with the students – the small class sizes really allow us to develop a close relationship,” Professor Peebles said. “Teaching every single course students take on the campus means I see my students a lot. I love the fact that there is a lot of opportunity to try out different things at Laurel Ridge. I have the ability to design and carry out a course in a way that I think is going to be most beneficial to the student.”
As a child growing up in Albany, N.Y., Professor Peebles did what many future engineers do – he took things apart.
“I loved tinkering with stuff, taking stuff apart, figuring out how things work,” he said. “I wasn’t really good at putting stuff back together, so I would get in trouble a lot! And, I just loved bridges. I thought they were really cool and I wanted to design them.”
Dr. Peebles originally thought he would study architecture, but started off studying civil engineering. He then found mechanical engineering classes particularly interesting, so that became his major. While still studying for his bachelor’s degree, he started taking bio-mechanical engineering classes.
“I absolutely loved the fact that every single course I had already taken, all these principles were being applied to the human body to study why injuries happen, or why diseases progress, or to develop novel therapeutic devices,” Professor Peebles said. “It’s really easy to become passionate about something that could help a large number of people.”
After earning his bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Roger Williams University, he earned his master’s degree in bioengineering from the University of Kansas, and his doctorate in biomedical engineering from Virginia Tech.
It was while he was an undergrad that Professor Peebles realized he was called to teaching.
“I just did really well with the course content and really appreciated all the courses I was taking,” he explained.
That led to his becoming a tutor for his classmates.
“I was helping students learn the course that I had taken the last semester,” said Dr. Peebles. “I really enjoyed that process and figuring out the best way to get them to learn the material.”
Meanwhile, he was also interning in the engineering field and realized he couldn’t picture himself doing that for his entire career.
“But when I was at school and I looked at my professors, they just really seemed to enjoy what they were doing,” Professor Peebles said. “I thought, that’s an awesome job right there.”
Laurel Ridge Community College was known as Lord Fairfax Community College until June 2022. For consistency purposes, the college will be referenced as Laurel Ridge going forward.