From very early in my education, I realized the deep satisfaction I received from working with others to help them learn. From the first “ah-ha” moment that I saw in my early days as a tutor, I was hooked. Helping others to learn is immensely rewarding. A professor’s teaching duties are special in that in many cases we are the final formal teacher that many students have. Our job is not just to educate, but to prepare students for the “real world.” What could be more important? Engineering was a natural choice for me with biomedical engineering being the combinations of my passion for mechanics and medicine.

Engaging students

I think what makes an educator most effective is the ability to get the students engaged. If students cannot connect to the content or the lesson, they won’t get it. It is not always easy to get students engaged, to get them committed to learning, but it is critical. Sometimes it happens naturally, sometimes it takes focused effort. I have tried many different techniques and tools to get students engaged and through my efforts I have been very successful. Once engaged, learning comes naturally.

Engineering is not easy. When students are struggling for motivation, I often discuss with them the difference between performance in a class (i.e. grades) and learning. I suggest that they focus on learning the material and less on grades. Actually learning the material and being able to apply it seems to eliminate some of the tedium and stress of courses. Actually learning the material also leads to outstanding grades. Persistence is psychological and a change in perspective often seems to help.
Every student is different and has different needs. Fundamentally, learning and understanding are critical and I discourage students from memorization or studying just to pass exams. I remind students that courses are a means to an end. The courses are not the important thing, it is the content that matters. Understanding is more important than grades. I also encourage students to engage in other activities outside of courses. Sports, clubs, and other organized activities help to relieve stress and gain perspective.

Balancing research and teaching

The skills necessary to being a strong researcher are not necessarily the same skills that make a strong teacher. Underlying both is a strong foundation in engineering. This is fundamental to being good as either a teacher or researcher. Being a good researcher means being creative and asking good questions, being a meticulous worker, being diligent in disseminating information, and being persistent in soliciting funding. Being a good teacher means being passionate about getting students engaged, creative in presenting materials, and dedicated to providing critical feedback to the students. The major challenge is finding time to do everything. It is often finding the right balance between grading and grant writing, lectures and manuscripts, advising and reading that is most difficult.

ASEE membership

The ASEE publications are very helpful. There are so many ASEE members with great experiences and strong ideas that I have often gone to various publications for ideas/solutions. Having access to these members is an incredible resource. The conference proceedings, journals, and local chapter discussions contain a wealth of information.

Outside of work

Spending time with my family keeps me balanced and keeps the stresses of work in perspective. As for hobbies, cycling and woodworking are a great way to find time to unwind, think, and enjoy some peace.

From very early in my education, I realized the deep satisfaction I received from working with others to help them learn. From the first “ah-ha” moment that I saw in my early days as a tutor, I was hooked. Helping others to learn is immensely rewarding. A professor’s teaching duties are special in that in many cases we are the final formal teacher that many students have. Our job is not just to educate, but to prepare students for the “real world.” What could be more important? Engineering was a natural choice for me with biomedical engineering being the combinations of my passion for mechanics and medicine.

Engaging students

I think what makes an educator most effective is the ability to get the students engaged. If students cannot connect to the content or the lesson, they won’t get it. It is not always easy to get students engaged, to get them committed to learning, but it is critical. Sometimes it happens naturally, sometimes it takes focused effort. I have tried many different techniques and tools to get students engaged and through my efforts I have been very successful. Once engaged, learning comes naturally.

Engineering is not easy. When students are struggling for motivation, I often discuss with them the difference between performance in a class (i.e. grades) and learning. I suggest that they focus on learning the material and less on grades. Actually learning the material and being able to apply it seems to eliminate some of the tedium and stress of courses. Actually learning the material also leads to outstanding grades. Persistence is psychological and a change in perspective often seems to help.
Every student is different and has different needs. Fundamentally, learning and understanding are critical and I discourage students from memorization or studying just to pass exams. I remind students that courses are a means to an end. The courses are not the important thing, it is the content that matters. Understanding is more important than grades. I also encourage students to engage in other activities outside of courses. Sports, clubs, and other organized activities help to relieve stress and gain perspective.

Balancing research and teaching

The skills necessary to being a strong researcher are not necessarily the same skills that make a strong teacher. Underlying both is a strong foundation in engineering. This is fundamental to being good as either a teacher or researcher. Being a good researcher means being creative and asking good questions, being a meticulous worker, being diligent in disseminating information, and being persistent in soliciting funding. Being a good teacher means being passionate about getting students engaged, creative in presenting materials, and dedicated to providing critical feedback to the students. The major challenge is finding time to do everything. It is often finding the right balance between grading and grant writing, lectures and manuscripts, advising and reading that is most difficult.

ASEE membership

The ASEE publications are very helpful. There are so many ASEE members with great experiences and strong ideas that I have often gone to various publications for ideas/solutions. Having access to these members is an incredible resource. The conference proceedings, journals, and local chapter discussions contain a wealth of information.

Outside of work

Spending time with my family keeps me balanced and keeps the stresses of work in perspective. As for hobbies, cycling and woodworking are a great way to find time to unwind, think, and enjoy some peace.