Mark Mueller

Academic Tutor

I grew up near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and attended Bethel Park Sr. High School. My most inspiring teacher was Mr. Wargo, who taught physics and whose teaching style involved incredible explanations. Half the class period was workshop time, during which students could work on homework, ask questions, and receive one-on-one help. Partly inspired by his class, I took every math, physics, and chemistry class available, along with computer science classes at the nearby University of Pittsburgh.

I set off for Purdue University to study electrical engineering, but I changed my major to applied mathematics. I was able to earn my bachelor’s degree in three years and start grad school at Purdue before transferring to the University of Illinois. I became a researcher in a solid state physics lab, and my thesis focused on depositing atomically thin metal layers on metal crystal surfaces and studying the quantum states of electrons within these layers. 

I worked at Intel after earning my Ph.D. from the U. of Illinois, and I went on to work in the semiconductor and related industries for over 15 years. I consider my self a “lifetime learner”: I have passed the US Patent Bar Exam and completed a Master of Science in computer science through an online program from Georgia Tech.

My teaching experience includes several years of working as a physics teaching assistant at both Purdue University and the University of Illinois. I taught labs and recitation sections to engineering students for both Mechanics and E&M. Prior to that, I tutored as an undergrad, and I’ve also been a TA for a grad-level machine learning computer science class at Georgia Tech during my online master’s study there.

Physics is hard. It took a cumulative effort of some of the smartest people, struggling entire lifetimes over hundreds of years, to get to where Newton could discover Newton’s Laws. But, for a physics student that’s just Chapter 1! The concepts of physics are difficult, and students should realize they are learning a new foreign language. I work with my students to develop effective study habits, including keeping a notebook of physics terms, units, and how each can be used with simple examples. I teach students to break down word problems into “component parts” to simplify and conquer. Overall, I hope to help my students see the subject as more than just finding the right equation for “plug and chug” application (although the mastery of equations and understanding those scenarios is important too). 

In my free time, I enjoy walking my dogs, hiking, skiing, and mountaineering. I avidly follow progress in such fields as space and astronomy, electric cars, nanotechnology, and AI.

Subjects Tutored:

Academic Physics
AP Physics 1
AP Physics 2


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