Whenever Jon Dugas has free time, he goes fishing, in this case at Tims Ford Lake in Winchester. He said his thesis defense was a success and he made all of the corrections the committee requested. Dugas, lower photo, graduated from Franklin County High School in 2000. His master’s degree thesis has been approved and turned into the graduate studies department, and he will graduate in December from Tennessee Technology University in Cookeville.
—Staff Photo by Philip J. Lorenz III and photo provided
Linda Stacy and
Philip J. Lorenz III
Jonathan Dugas, a 2000 graduate of Franklin County High School and 30-year resident of Winchester, excels in an area that many find challenging.
Dugas and Brian M. O’Connor, created a mathematical formula involving prime numbers that may very well revolutionize the whole cyber security industry. This patented formula was recently published in the Journal of Mathematics and Statistics. It is titled, “Abstract Sequences for Determination of Prime Numbers by Elimination of Composites.”
Dugas, who is set to graduate in December with his master’s degree in electrical engineering from Tennessee Tech in Cookeville, may be eligible for prize money and awards for the mathematics formula.
The going has not been easy for Dugas who credits his mentor, Buddy Perry, for setting him in a positive direction in his youth and early adult years.
Regarding her brother’s struggles in staying out of trouble during that time in his life, Dugas’ sister, Tiffany Dugas Martin, said, “Aside from our parents [Roger and Rhonda Dugas] and myself, there is one person around here that really believed in Jon’s abilities and encouraged him greatly, and that was Buddy Perry.”
At that time, Perry ran the Franklin County Drug Court program, which has been shown to make dramatic impacts on young lives.
Dugas credits the program for turning his life around. After completing the drug court program, he stopped getting in trouble. During the program, he started taking classes at Motlow State Community College. Perry nudged Dugas to focus on his true potential the whole time he was in school.
Tiffany said, “Our family was shocked at his grades of straight A’s while he attended there, and we were completely floored when he won a state award in mathematics his last year of attendance there at Motlow.”
That award led to a full scholarship he was awarded from Cookeville after graduation from Motlow.
“Our whole family gives Buddy some much deserved credit for helping him become the person he is today, and Jon holds Mr. Perry in the highest of regards as well,” Tiffany said in speaking for her brother.
“He was constantly encouraging Jonathan,” she said.
Perry, who remembers Dugas and the struggles he had when he initially entered the Franklin County Drug Court program, recalls when the young man came to the realization that he had substance abuse issues, had to take control of his life, but also take full responsibility for his actions.
“He went down to Motlow and he tutored some folks (in math) for us,” Perry said. “I remember seeing his grades and they were all A’s, which was pretty remarkable. We offered him an opportunity and he took it.”
When Perry said “we” he meant that the program is a team effort, and he felt humbled when Dugas and his family credited him with helping the young man make the decision to turn his life around.
Everyone involved agreed that exercising momentous determination and motivation, Dugas is a testimony that much can be accomplished when one focuses on their true potential.
Dugas, who also works part time as an engineering consultant/research assistant while finishing his master’s degree, said his true passion is to establish a career as an educator.
“I’d probably be teaching math or something in electrical engineering to people at the college level,” he said.
Dugas said he loves living in Tennessee and finding a teaching position in any college in the state would be ideal. He traces his interest in science back to when he was a preteen, playing with friends, launching rockets, they would build and were “blowing stuff up occasionally.”
He said his focus on math came later.
“I didn’t do well in mathematics in high school because I didn’t do the work,” Dugas said. “I was a bit lazy when it came to my school work, but when I was about 18, I started noticing I had an interest in Algebra, and I (had) failed Algebra II my first time through it just because I didn’t do the work.”
At some point, he decided to attend the Tennessee School of Applied Technology in Shelbyville and then transferred to the TCAT in McMinnville before he went on to college.
Dugas said his father, who is a mechanical and aerodynamic engineer, and his mother, who is a special education teacher, probably played a role in his affinity for mathematics.
He also spoke about what he enjoys doing when he manages to find some free time from work and college.
“I love to fish (and go kayaking),” he said, but he acknowledged his primary focus is getting closure on his master’s degree and transitioning to a career in mathematics or electrical engineering.
Dugas said he hopes that his experience with substance abuse, the legal consequences, the Drug Court and what it took for him to turn his life around can provide inspiration to others facing similar challenges.