Carl B. Truxel

A retired mechanical engineer whose second career as an educator made complicated engineering challenges fun for students

March 25, 2010|By Frederick N. Rasmussen | fred.rasmussen@baltsun.com

Carl B. Truxel, who spent 36 years working as a mechanical engineer and then began a second career as an educator whose specialty was the melding of science, math and language arts in technology education classes, died of lung cancer March 17, his 75th birthday.

Mr. Truxel, the son of educators, was born and raised in Audubon, N.J. He was a 1952 graduate of Valley Forge Military Academy and attended Bucknell University and Drexel University, where he earned a bachelor's degree in 1960 in mechanical engineering.

While a student at Drexel, Mr. Truxel began his career in 1954 with AAI Corp. in Cockeysville as one of the first participants in the company's co-op program.

He was commissioned a second lieutenant in the Army in 1960, and served with the Army Corps of Engineers at Fort Belvoir, Va., and later at Fort Bragg, N.C.

Mr. Truxel was later called up to active duty in the Army while working at AAI. His assignments included air traffic control training and several classified projects. He returned to his company in 1963.

He remained in the Army Reserve until 1968, when he was discharged with the rank of first lieutenant.

Mr. Truxel began his full-time engineering career at AAI as a junior engineer and then was promoted to field support manager and engineering program manager.

His primary work focused on mechanical design for electronic equipment research and development, and he was responsible for overseeing production contracts with the U.S. Department of Defense and prime contractors.

While at AAI, he was an adviser with the Junior Achievement Program, where he mentored youths in the engineering field.

Mr. Truxel retired in 1990.

"Carl was a very unusual and likable guy, so much so that after he retired from AAI he began teaching," said Ed Oster, a retired AAI electrical engineer and longtime friend. "He was a highly respected engineer, and no matter what he did, it was done well."

Two years after retiring, Mr. Truxel went back to work as a technology education teacher in Washington County public schools, and then joined Baltimore County public schools, where he taught at Woodlawn and Dulaney high schools.

"While at Dulaney, he also developed and presented courses of instruction in materials and optics for a National Science Foundation-funded technology education leadership program at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore," said a daughter, Megan L. Olson of Towson.

"He helped write blended instruction curriculum, and wrote a handbook addressing the integration of science, math, and language arts in technology education classes in Baltimore County to improve student performance on SATs and in postsecondary education," Mrs. Olson said.

His published books included "Designing a Pathway to Success for SAT and Beyond," "A Practitioner's View of Content Knowledge: Technical, Pedagogical, and Interdisciplinary-Engineering Design and Analytical Methods" and "Understanding and Improving K-12 Engineering Education in the United States."

Mr. Truxel was a popular lecturer and was a reviewer for the National Academy of Engineering and National Research Council.

Mr. Truxel also conducted professional development sessions and monthly workshops for teachers, ensuring that the entire curriculum was covered in detail.

He thoroughly enjoyed leading students in his favorite competitions, which included hot-air balloon flights, toothpick bridge construction, submarine launches, weighted boat races and robotics systems challenges.

"I worked with Carl for two years, and he was an absolutely incredible gentleman. His knowledge of engineering was very impressive, and he had such enthusiasm," said Pat McCuster, Dulaney High School principal.

"His enthusiasm was contagious when it came to his students. He enjoyed being with teens and getting them motivated by working on real projects and giving them a valuable life experience," he said.

"Carl's death is a loss to the entire community. He was just such a great man. He was both a role model for teachers and humanity," Mr. McCuster said.

While at Dulaney, Mr. Truxel, who retired last year, also had coached the girls soccer and softball teams.

Mr. Truxel was a founding participant in the Baltimore County Public Schools- Johns Hopkins University Robotics Systems Challenge for the Engineering Society of Baltimore.

The work of the longtime Phoenix, Baltimore County, resident earned him numerous awards, some of which included an Outstanding Teacher Award in 2002, High School Teacher of the Year by the Baltimore County Chamber of Commerce in 2003, and the Science Teaching Tools Award in 2008 by the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association.

Mr. Truxel was an outdoorsman who enjoyed hunting, fishing and hiking and spending time at a cabin he owned in Blain, Pa. He was a member of the National Rifle Association and was a decorated marksman. He was also leader of the Baltimore County 4-H marksmanship team.

He was an avid gardener, dancer and world traveler. He also was a Mason.

"He was always approachable, giving sage advice with a bit of humor," said Mrs. Olson.

Services will be held at 11 a.m. April 17 at Grace Fellowship Church, 9505 Deereco Road, Timonium.

Also surviving are his wife of 45 years, Joyce C. Ashby; a son, Jeffrey A. Truxel of Pylesville; three other daughters, Kelly J. Wilson of Parkton, Heather L. Greenawalt of Manhattan, Kan., and Shannon M. Truxel of Philadelphia; and five grandchildren.

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