I have always been curious about how things work. As a kid, I enjoyed building things, such as dams for the nearby creek and boats to float (or sink) in them. Combined with a strong interest in math and science, it made engineering a natural home for me. Even as an undergraduate, I also enjoyed sharing knowledge with others and passing along my enthusiasm for the subject. So, becoming an engineering professor was a natural choice for me.

Experiential learning

I think students and colleagues most admire my enthusiasm for mechanical engineering and my desire to pass along that enthusiasm to my students. I want them to be just as passionate about the subject as I am. I also strive to incorporate experiential learning in my courses. I incorporate hands-on activities in many of my lectures, bring physical products as demos to many of my classes, and encourage students to pursue challenging and relevant course projects. For example, in my additive manufacturing course, students design and build (with selective laser sintering) a device that could only be made efficiently with additive manufacturing (3d printing). Students have designed and built everything from teaching tools to energy harvesters to animal prosthetics.

Teaching critical questioning

I focus especially on two habits of mind with my undergraduate and graduate students: (1) be critical and ask lots of questions, and (2) always validate your work. To be a successful engineer or researcher, it is very important to ask lots of questions. Why does this work the way it does? What makes it a good idea relative to other approaches? Why would someone want to buy this product or use this particular research approach? Also, it’s even more important to validate your work. How do you know your results are valid? What are the possible explanations for this result? How do you know that your approach is responsible for the observed result, rather than other exogenous factors? Under what conditions would you achieve this result?

I occasionally conduct workshops with some of our employers, and I frequently ask industry contacts and former students about their work. What are the most important things we can teach our students? What do our graduates do well or poorly, relative to other programs?

Balancing teaching and research

Teaching and research are highly complementary for me. I frequently pull teaching examples from my research projects. I also occasionally conduct engineering education research to better understand how our teaching efforts are affecting our students. One example is a recent research project in which we set out to measure the innovation capabilities of our undergraduate engineering students as they progress through the curriculum, to see how our design and project-based curriculum is affecting them.
I enjoy attending ASEE conferences and reading articles in the Journal of Engineering Education. And outside of work, I love to cook, including lots of gourmet recipes. I also enjoy spending time with my family, and especially outdoor activities like hiking. 

I have always been curious about how things work. As a kid, I enjoyed building things, such as dams for the nearby creek and boats to float (or sink) in them. Combined with a strong interest in math and science, it made engineering a natural home for me. Even as an undergraduate, I also enjoyed sharing knowledge with others and passing along my enthusiasm for the subject. So, becoming an engineering professor was a natural choice for me.

Experiential learning

I think students and colleagues most admire my enthusiasm for mechanical engineering and my desire to pass along that enthusiasm to my students. I want them to be just as passionate about the subject as I am. I also strive to incorporate experiential learning in my courses. I incorporate hands-on activities in many of my lectures, bring physical products as demos to many of my classes, and encourage students to pursue challenging and relevant course projects. For example, in my additive manufacturing course, students design and build (with selective laser sintering) a device that could only be made efficiently with additive manufacturing (3d printing). Students have designed and built everything from teaching tools to energy harvesters to animal prosthetics.

Teaching critical questioning

I focus especially on two habits of mind with my undergraduate and graduate students: (1) be critical and ask lots of questions, and (2) always validate your work. To be a successful engineer or researcher, it is very important to ask lots of questions. Why does this work the way it does? What makes it a good idea relative to other approaches? Why would someone want to buy this product or use this particular research approach? Also, it’s even more important to validate your work. How do you know your results are valid? What are the possible explanations for this result? How do you know that your approach is responsible for the observed result, rather than other exogenous factors? Under what conditions would you achieve this result?

I occasionally conduct workshops with some of our employers, and I frequently ask industry contacts and former students about their work. What are the most important things we can teach our students? What do our graduates do well or poorly, relative to other programs?

Balancing teaching and research

Teaching and research are highly complementary for me. I frequently pull teaching examples from my research projects. I also occasionally conduct engineering education research to better understand how our teaching efforts are affecting our students. One example is a recent research project in which we set out to measure the innovation capabilities of our undergraduate engineering students as they progress through the curriculum, to see how our design and project-based curriculum is affecting them.
I enjoy attending ASEE conferences and reading articles in the Journal of Engineering Education. And outside of work, I love to cook, including lots of gourmet recipes. I also enjoy spending time with my family, and especially outdoor activities like hiking.