How do you weave your professional background into the classroom experience?
I’m a research physicist, and I teach two conceptual general education physics courses. I try to make them relevant so students can apply what they learn to their majors. One course deals with real-life topics like mechanics, electricity, and magnetism. I engage students by presenting each one with a twist. “Why not build indestructible cars as opposed to crushable ones?” “How does a cat survive falling from the top of the Sears tower better than falling from the second floor?” “Does a person exert the same impact force back on an oncoming train at 60 miles per hour?”
What class assignment exemplifies your approach to teaching and mentoring?
My students use their artistic backgrounds to turn in a creative project at the end of the quarter. I include some of the more exceptional projects in my multimedia physics lecture presentations. Stressing the importance of creativity in physics encourages students to push themselves to do better work.
How does collaboration contribute to students’ success—particularly when students from various programs work together?
Students regularly collaborate on research projects in my seminar class, and different majors work together on creative projects as well. One graduating film student’s senior project included Audio Production students creating the sound recording and background music, Fashion Design students designing the outfits, and Animation students working on the script and storyboard.
What’s the most important thing you impart to students to help them succeed in class and the real world?
I always stress the importance of creative thinking and problem solving.
What’s the most critical advice you would offer any student embarking on a creative career?
Common sense is no substitute for education. And life-long education is important not only for your own general well-being, but your personal and professional growth.
Anything else you’d like to share?
Teaching here for 20 years has made me a much more creative instructor and much better lecturer.