Growing up in Redwood Falls, Ernest Parker recalls classes such as shop and typing have served him well, adding he also appreciate he was able to take as many math and science classes as he could; “The time I spent in Redwood Falls was huge,” he said.
Growing up in Redwood Falls, Ernest Parker, now of Bloomington, recalls with fondness his time as a Redwood Falls High School student. Classes, such as shop and typing have served him well, he said, adding he also appreciates the fact that he was able to take as many math and science classes as he could. “The time I spent in Redwood Falls was huge,” he said. “I enjoyed my classes. I received good instruction in all areas while I was in high school.” Parker said the teachers he had were outstanding, adding his junior high math teacher made a big impression when asking Parker a simple question. How many revolutions does a tire make in a mile at 60 miles per hour? That question, he said, helped him understand math was not just a bunch of numbers but were a reflection of everyday life. Parker is convinced the education he received in Redwood Falls is what led to the successes he was able to have during the years to follow. Those years started in Granite Falls where Parker attended the vocational college.
The 1965 graduate of Redwood Falls High School then became an assistant engineer at Char/Lynn, which became Eaton Cor-poration. During the time he was with that company, he filled roles as an electronics and hydraulics technician, draftsman, assistant purchasing agent and engineer. During that time, Parker took a “break” from work to serve his country as a member of the U.S. Army. “I was drafted into the Army and served for three-and-a-half years,” Parker said, adding he spent time in Vietnam and at various locations in the United States filling roles as a personnel supervisor, a legal clerk, a rough terrain forklift operator, a radar technician and drill instructor. Parker was able to return to school via the G.I. Bill and earned a teaching degree. Parker said he opted to go back to school with the intent of using his teaching skills as a trainer for the company he was working for. Rather than serving in that role, Parker began an unexpected career teaching in post-secondary education at Hennepin Technical College in Eden Prairie. He taught courses in fluid power and manufacturing engineering technology – a role he continues in today. Practical experience was also added to Parkers resume in the 1970s when he started his own company, Hydra Tech, Inc. which designs and fabricates fluid power equipment. His company has done work for various entities, including Valley Fair, Toro, 3M, John Deere and Caterpillar. “If you have ever seen a snowblower on the front of a skid steer that idea started with us,” said Parker, adding his company also was on the forefront of hybrid transportation technology. “I guess you could say I’m a bit of an inventor.” Along the way, Parker has earned a degree in engineering and continues to be one who finds learning an important part of life. Parker said he is looking forward to the opportunity to speak with students at the May 7 Evening of the Stars event, as he encourages them to follow their passion and to pursue education. “I have always enjoyed working with students and seeing that moment when the light bulb goes on,” said Parker, who is being inducted into the Redwood Valley Hall of Fame. “When I see a student who gets it, when what they are learning suddenly makes sense, it makes my job very worthwhile.” Parker, who was named the 2009 educator of the year for all of the Minnesota State Colleges and Univer-sities (MNSCU), said he is very honored and humbled to be selected for induction into the hall of fame at his alma mater. “When you do a job you enjoy it’s not really work,” he said. “I really like knowing I am making a difference in the lives of students.”