James L. Baird began his practical education in seventh grade industrial arts classes. An informal apprenticeship in auto body and frame repair followed at age13 and continued throughout high school and summers during college. After serving in the US Air Force and working as a driver/mechanic for a tour company in Europe and Asia he completed a Bachelor of Science degree in Industrial Education at Iowa State University in Ames. An opportunity to teach vocational auto mechanics brought him to Fairbanks in August 1976 where he built his own house and completed the FAA Airframe and Powerplant Certificate program at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. He retired from the school system to share his enthusiasm for industrial arts with a wider group of students.