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Teaching Philosophy

Prof. Midlam-Mohler on Teaching:

An outsider to curriculum innovation might view teaching as a static thing – thermodynamics today is the same as it was fifty years ago, right?  In many cases, we are teaching the same knowledge we did in the past but we are – or should be – teaching it in drastically different ways.  Among weaknesses noted by employers of graduates are “lack of practical experience in how devices are made or work, a lack of familiarity with industry codes and standards, and a lack of a systems perspective.”  My work in experiential learning is at the front-lines of this recommendation.  I help shepherd hundreds of students through experiential learning activities ever year.  These projects are large, interdisciplinary, system-oriented, and are made possible by extensive peer-to-peer learning networks. 

External feedback from employers routinely state that students are lacking professional skills.  So how does one teach project management or system engineering well in a classroom setting?  My conclusion was that you don’t – these topics are too intertwined with “messy, real-life” factors.  From this simple premise, the concepts for a “the world is your lab” project management, system engineering, and powertrain laboratory course were born and now alive and well in the Department of Mechanical Engineering via class I teach.  These students take concepts from a discussion-based weekly lecture into the field to practice.