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Teaching Philosophy

Engineering design provides the infrastructure necessary to sustain civilization and provide for quality of life.  The challenge for engineering education is to invest students with the skills and competencies necessary to design solutions for the challenges and opportunities humanity faces today and in coming generations.  I contribute towards this grand endeavor in two ways: 1) Teaching hydraulic design concepts and their field application to control the movement, distribution, and quality of water, and 2) Teaching how to capture the fundamental principles and properties of nature in mathematical expressions, implement these equations in computer models, and use these models to understand physical processes and to design solutions.

The next generation of engineers faces broad global problems in water resources: scarcity issues, balancing the often competing needs of urban development vs. rural agriculture vs. ecosystem function, adaptation to climate change (predicted warmer temperatures with the need for more water and more extreme events), restoration of polluted waters, etc.  Our students are uniquely positioned to deal with such issues with the advent of a plethora of electronic data reserves, computational platforms, and internet connectivity.  Engineers must be prepared to wrestle with seemingly intractable problems, where various alternatives must be evaluated to make the best possible choices.

Throughout courses, I utilize active learning techniques to introduce basic principles and processes using hands-on laboratory apparatus designed and built by teams of students in my classes. Case studies are conducted where teams of students: locate and organize data using modern GIS computer tools, develop and apply computational models, develop design recommendations, and justify their design to their peers in the classroom. These case studies and supplementary material explore how to solve practical problems in both the North Dakota region and internationally.

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