Professor and Chair Chris Rogers was interviewed about his educational philosophy by Owen Smithyman, a blogger for Other Machine Co., a company that produces CNC machines.
Read more of the “LEGO and Super Soakers” interview:
What are some things that you do in your Mechanical Engineering classes to ensure that students learn the material, that you would like to see more of in higher education?
Nonstandard projects. We always talk about people trying to get the “right” answer, which would be a solution diversity of zero — everybody having the same answer — as opposed to giving a problem where people can come up with their own answers.
One year in my robotics class, the problem was to build robots that play acoustic instruments. And so there were robots that played the bagpipes, the trombone, the mandolin, the piano, the xylophone, the ukulele. Because there are all these different solutions, they’re all learning different skills, and then they teach them to each other.
So instead of trying to have everybody learn the same information, how can we develop courses where everybody learns different information and learns how to talk to each other and leverage each other, just like we do in the business world? Why do we want everybody to learn the exact same thing in Fluids class or in Controls class or whatever? Wouldn’t it be far more powerful if we taught them how to talk to one another but then had them specialize and have their own expertise and have different projects?