The World of Wendorff

By Justin Milton

October 30, 2023

Wendorff with Engineering 2 testing their ROV’s in Morro Bay near Coleman Park as their semester final, June 6th 2023

Morro Bay High School has many great teachers. Three years ago, a new engineering teacher arrived; Mr. Wendorff. He is fairly popular with students, working with them on projects outside of class time and leading a school club called Precious Plastics. Let’s dive into the World of Wendorff.

Wendorff found his love for engineering in high school, where he was drawn to physics and mechanics. In physics, his teacher Mr. Greenberg recommended that he study engineering, and he followed that advice when applying to college. Wendorff says, “when I went to look for a major, mechanical engineering seemed to be mechanics within physics, so that was where I headed at Cal Poly.” While learning about engineering, he got into the hobby of fixing things. 

He did not expect to become a teacher. Previously he was a design engineer who felt that he was on the computer too much. He had experience as a camp counselor with high schoolers and wanted to be more social. “When I saw the opening for this job as an engineering teacher, I realized I could spend time with people, help students grow, and also still grow as an engineer.”

As a teacher, his favorite thing is watching students overcome challenges. He enjoys seeing how far students can get working together compared to by themselves. His biggest challenge while teaching so far has been not being able to do all of his creative project ideas with his students. “It has been a lot of learning for me about what size pieces are good for a student to take on a project and finding a balance of being supportive but also challenging with projects.” He wants students to work hard and struggle a bit, but not get completely stuck at the same time.

Aside from teaching engineering, he is also the supervisor of Precious Plastics club. The club was inspired by Dave Hakkens, who created an international project to reuse and recycle plastic. Wendorff says, “the way we are getting involved is by building a mixed recycling center where we can collect our own plastic waste to clean, shred and process into different products. It is a good way for students to design their own projects and learn about sustainability while keeping plastic out of the waste stream.” He has been enjoying the work so far, especially watching students take matters into their own hands and helping each other move things along.

He has gotten inspiration for his creative projects from his high school physics teacher Mr. Greenberg and Precious Plastics founder Dave Hakkens, who “is always working on new projects as well.” On Youtube, he watches Laura Kampf and Jimmy Diresta for ideas. Inspiration he would give to high schoolers is to “be yourself. I think in high school it can be challenging to be yourself and you may feel the need to fit in, but the more authentic you are the more confidence you will have and the more others feel that they can be themselves too.” He has a similar message to society at large. “Listen to yourself. Follow your own ideas and do not be afraid to think outside the box.”

All in all, Wendorff is a relatively new teacher who has gone above and beyond to make an impact on students and the school community. He leads the school Engineering Program and club, Precious Plastics, and students love being engaged with him during and after class time.