The word diverse was practically invented to describe Mike Elta. He has a Ph.D in electrical engineering and spent 20 years in teaching and research at the University of Michigan's College of Engineering. Not too long ago he left his position to work as a consultant and to pursue his other interests. Most recently those interests include Web radio and motorcycling but he's also been an avid sailor, a musician, and a martial arts practitioner.
With nearly all his interests, he's channeled his expertise into teaching of some sort. He puts it simply, "I like to teach and I most like teaching novices. I like it when the light bulb goes on in their head." He tells his students, "Once you really get a concept, it's trivial but until then it's a mystery of the universe."
At WCC Elta teaches introductory and advanced HTML class in the Internet Professional program and also is an instructor for Continuing Education Motorcycle Safety Courses.
He's one of those pioneers of the Internet who was creating Web pages before most people had a clue what www stood for. One of Elta's latest passions is Internet radio. A couple of years ago he created a Web site to share his favorite music with friends. This Internet radio can be found at his site, http://www.bikerbarradio.com/ , which he calls "Biker Bar." The radio station is named, naturally enough, "Biker Bar Radio." Elta includes a wide range of styles that fit loosely into a category he calls "Americana" -blues, western, Zydeco and Canjun-the kind of music you're not likely to hear much on conventional radio.
"It's unbelievable how many people know about this radio station," he says. "It started out with this simple notion that I wanted to share music with my friends. Now I probably get 30 to 40 e-mails a day from Europe, Sweden, Australia and Japan from people saying,'This is the best radio station; I love it; it's all we play at our company'." Recently Time magazine interviewed him about Biker Bar Radio for an online article about the growing popularity of Internet stations.
His HTML students benefit from this expertise because he integrates lessons on using multi media in his courses. He's also became a consultant of sorts for WCC's own Internet station, Orchard Radio, helping them make it easier to find the station with a Web search and getting it listed on various Web radio tuners.
Elta's longtime interest in motorcycles and motorcycle culture inspired him to teach in WCC's Motorcycle Safety program. The program offers classes for both novice riders who want a motorcycle endorsement on their driver's license and for experienced riders who want to develop their skills. Elta teaches the weekend novice course, which is an intense Friday, Saturday and Sunday introduction to the rules of the road and techniques for safe handling of a motorcycle. He teaches a broad range of students from the ages of 16 to 70 and he estimates that about half the students are women, "who are tired of being passengers." The course covers the basics like how to use a clutch and techniques for stopping, turning and swerving.