Observations/Tips and Information for instructors, teaching assistants, and students in science, engineering and any other educational subject

Entry 1 : Mechanical Engineering Design

Learning to work together with a group is an essential part of becoming an engineer. This course teaches not only principles of design, but also encourages this growth. Strategies of effective communication and organization are practiced in this course. The student also has the opportunity to practice some of the theory which has been acquired over the years in an environment which gives feedback, allowing for correction.

I always try to encourage questions and discussion, rather than instantly answering all their questions. Otherwise what happens is they tend to depend on the teacher or TA to think for them. There is a fine line of how much input to give. Give too little and they give up or feel as though they are not intelligent. Every student in every course I have ever been part of has been intelligent and capable. It is Plato who said that we all possess true knowledge, it is merely a matter of recollection.

Humor is another component which is useful in education. With the correct amount of humor the student is awake and engaged, with a general activation in a neurological sense. Use too much humor and the students do not respect you, and see you as a clown. Then when you try to seriously appeal to their intelligence, you find a wall facing you instead. No humor makes education painful and straining. I believe that is one way to do it, but one can achieve a higher level when one's whole being is applied to something.

Entry 2 : Computer Graphics

I have always found computer graphics interesting. When I first took this course, it sparked my interest, and I have continued to expand on it as a beginning. I find that as a TA or tutor one has the opportunity to aid in that spark for the students. It does seem to make a difference, as I have found that some tend to feel a bit negative when under the stress of an intense course. When the student is enjoying what they are doing or amused, then the demands are met with an intelligence and energy which seems otherwise impossible.