SYEN 1201. Introduction to Systems Engineering (the original 1999 version)
ASCI 7312. Real-time Control (moved to SYEN but not taught)
ASCI 53xx. Mechatronics (moved to SYEN but not taught)
ASCI 53xx. Advanced Dynamics (moved to SYEN but not taught)
ASCI 53xx. Acoustics (moved to SYEN but not taught)
SYEN 3364. Introduction to Control Engineering was revamped from an analog control course to a digital control course using materials developed in my textbook, Introduction to Controls: Digital Design for Mobile Robotics Applications (in progress).
BS in Systems Engineering
PhD in Applied Science
DCISSE general education core
Graduate Students (graduates: 1 PhD, 8 MS)
Trigun Maroo, PhD, started August 2015
Taimoor Azfal, PhD, May 2015
Jeremy Diaz, MS (Applied Science – Engineering Science), 2012
Naresh Modugu, MS (Systems Engineering), 2011
Traig Born, MS (Applied Science – Engineering Science), 2007
Eileen Anderson, MS (Applied Science – Engineering Science), 2004
Jason Elsasser, MS (Applied Science), 2000
Constance Meadors, MS (Applied Science), 1999
Karthikeyan Amalashekaran, MS (Applied Science), 1999
Baoai Xie, MS (Applied Science), 1998
In applied science (1996-2012), the chair did not often provide the results of teaching evaluations to the faculty. The years that I did obtain the evaluations, my numbers were generally between 4-4.5 on a 5 point scale. Some representative samples are in my supplementary materials. We had small class sizes and rarely were comments made in the evaluations. The comments were usually not extracted from the scan-tron forms.
From 2012 to present I have been evaluated in Systems Engineering. My averages are usually around 4. The electronic evaluation system used by systems engineering has not been good at getting a high response rate for most classes (eg. 6 out of 20 students). Usually those respondents will be the less satisfied students. Despite this, even those students seem to be generally satisfied and my averages have been around 4.
My best marks have occurred in SYEN 3364. Introduction to Control Engineering. In this course, I have been developing a textbook. Even though the material is very theoretical, the project that I linked to the class helps the student understand the material. Despite my high marks and expertise in the subject, I have not been asked to teach this course recently.
My worst marks have occurred in SYEN 3371. Dynamics. Even though I have strong expertise in this subject, the material is very theoretical and the mechanical students are weak in theoretical subjects. Unlike SYEN 3364, I have not been able to develop a project/lab that can help make sense of the theoretical material.
In all my courses, I tend to receive strong marks in the question “The professor seems to know the subject well.” In SYEN 3364 (S13) I received a 5 out of 5, and in SYEN 3371 (F13) I received a 4.88 out of 5. The other question that matters to me, “I have learned a lot about this subject” received 4.43 and 4.38 respectively.
I have clearly demonstrated that I can master the complex material in a variety of engineering subjects. I have demonstrated that I can convey that material, although I am more effective in some subjects than other. On subjects that I am passionate about, such as controls, design, or mechatronics, I tend to put more thought, effort, and creativity into the course. In subjects that I am less enthusiastic about (dynamics, intro to systems), I am still able to competently deliver the subject matter.
I began my career in applied science, a graduate only department. My early teaching and course development was graduate work. Circa 1999, I was jointly appointed with the newly formed systems engineering department. Initially, that department had only upper level systems and electrical engineering courses, so the joint appointment was dissolved after a few years. With the formation of the mechanical option in systems engineering and the dissolution of the applied science department, my appointment was changed from applied science to systems engineering in 2012, and I have been teaching undergraduate courses since then.
When I came to applied science, the doctoral program was focused on instrumental science. Although this niche provided a unique, interdisciplinary program, it did not attract a large population of students. I served on the committee that developed the curriculum that allowed the applied science doctorate to support the undergraduate programs in the college of science and engineering technology. While we were implementing the curriculum, a reorganization occurred, splitting the science and engineering efforts across two colleges. I developed the governance structures that allowed faculty from both College of Science and College of Engineering to participate in the doctoral program. As a result of these efforts, PhD production in applied science grew from about 2 graduates per year to about 30 graduates per year.
Systems Engineering Curriculum
I was part of the curriculum committee that developed the initial systems engineering curriculum in 1999. Gary Anderson and Hirak Patangia are the other remaining members of that committee. Even though I was in a graduate only department, I agreed to serve one term on undergraduate council to shepherd that curriculum through the approval process.
General Education Revisions
I developed the general education curriculum for the college of engineering. At the time, the 44 credit core applied to all programs in the university. Moving to a 35 credit core for the engineering college was important to allow students to graduate in four years. This core included upper level courses in management, writing, and communications. I spent the summer of 1999 working with undergraduate council to bring them around to the point of view that a college core could work. In Fall 1999, the college of engineering core was approved by the university. In 2012, I became Secretary of the Faculty Senate, in the middle of the university revision to the general education curriculum. This played out over the next several years of implementation.
UALR students haven’t been as strong mathematically as students at other institutions that I’ve been part of. This doesn’t mean that UALR cannot turn out strong engineers; however, a different approach than the pure lecture/homework/exam class is needed. I have invested in project-based learning as a means of keeping the students engaged, especially through the more mathematically intense parts of the curriculum.
This leads to design classes where the students have a project that takes them from start to finish in the material. For instance, in my design class, I try to develop projects that involve the things that are covered in the text (eg. Bolted joint design, gear design) at the same times we are covering them in class. Then, the students actually build the design and see whether their calculations are worth the paper they’re written on.
Although much of engineering education does not lend itself easily to an on-line paradigm, there are places where the skills developed in an on-line course can be valuable. I have taken SYEN 2233 and flipped the lab portion of the class. The lab consists of using Solidworks to create a solid model of a robot frame. I did the models with my commentary and recorded the steps as I did them (using quicktime on a mac while logged into vmware). I uploaded the videos to my server. Students can watch the videos while they do the steps and prepare unique materials to turn in. So far, when I see these students again in SYEN 3379 a year later, they have retained their skills.
When I worked with the FIRST robotics competition, I began to look into service learning in engineering. I had the students teach practical skills to the high school students while engaged in design of their module for the robot. I had hoped to eventually use the college students as mentors in the high schools while the program was outsourced. However, the difficulty of the project at the time we were involved in FIRST was sufficiently out of reach for our high school partners that this approach would not have worked.
I attended the Service Learning Academy in summer of 2015. I hope to revisit the service learning teaching technique as a combination between SYEN 2233. Solid Modeling and Design and either SYEN 3379 or SYEN 4386. By partnering the students learning CAD with the students who need to have solid models and engineering drawings created, I should be able to engage some peer-mentoring in both directions.