Gerald Recktenwald's Teaching Page
Current Teaching Schedule
During Winter 2019 I am teaching
ME 121: Introduction to Systems and Control
ME 448/548: Applied Computational Fluid Dynamics.
Engineering: What is it? What is it Good for?
Teaching Philosophy and Advice on Learning
I have a separate web page where I discuss
my grading philosophy and practice. Most of the links and ideas
apply to both undergraduate and graduate studies.
A separate set of links is provided for advice on graduate school.
Dr. Richard Felder,
Professor Emeritus of Chemical Engineering
at North Carolina State University has some excellent articles containing
advice for engineering students.
In particular, I suggest you read:
And for some good ideas (some would say advice) on living life:
I think engineers should be fearless in the way that a good artist is fearless. Not fearless=stupid or
fearless=careless. If that idea interests you, try this:
Advice for Graduate Students
Graduate school is not a simple continuation of learning at an advanced
undergraduate level. The intellectual demands and expectations are
significantly higher. The structure of graduate programs is significantly
looser. The definition of "done" is much more elusive.
The imposter syndrome, or (more technically accurate) the imposter phenomenon,
is the feeling that you don't belong in a
professional or otherwise achievement-focused group. It's the feeling that everyone
else has earned the right to belong to that group except you. It's the belief,
most likely false, that your achievements are not sufficient to warrant
inclusion into this group. Here
are some good sources of information on the imposter phenomenon. Be kind to
yourself and to other grad students. Read these articles on the imposter syndrome.
And you should notice that the authors of these articles are women. The feeling
of not-belonging because you are somehow inadequate compared to your peers
is prevalent among women and other under-represented groups in STEM fields.
And yes, men, including white men, sometimes feel like imposters too.
The complement to the imposter phenomenon is the
Dunning-Kruger effect. If you have never struggled with the
feeling that you are not good enough, there is a good chance that you may
be exhibiting the Dunning-Kruger effect. Again, be kind to yourself and
others. Seek out honest feedback from credible sources.
- The Dissertation Defense Meeting is not necessarily an inquisition or trial by fire.
Matthew Might, an assistant professor
of computer science at the University of Utah, has some interesting, useful
and amusing advice for Ph.D. students:
How to Get into Grad School,
The illustrated guide to a Ph.D., and
3 qualities of successful Ph.D. students.
- Diane P. O'Leary,
Graduate Study in the Computer and Mathematical Sciences: A Survival Manual
is useful to engineers as well as computer scientists.
- Ronald Azuma's
So long, and thanks for the PhD!
provides the important perspective that "Academia is a Business".
He points out that graduate students need to be productive if they want to remain employed.
- Marie desJardins
How to Succeed in Graduate School: A Guide for Students and Advisors.
This is another article focused on computer science (what's with CS majors and advice?),
but it is useful to a broader audience. The original motivation for this article
was desJardins' desire to help women graduate students and their advisors.
The goals of this article are to raise awareness of the need for a healthy and
interactive graduate student-advisor relationship, to provide pointers and
guidance for both advisors and graduate students in navigating the maze of a
doctoral degree, and to give references and resources for those who hope to learn
- Richard Baraniuk has a list
Graduate Student Resources
Amin Vahdat at UC San Diego has
advice on how to get into the grad programs of your dreams
The Thayer School of Engineering at Dartmouth has
some concise advice.
Strategies for Studying
The University of Guelph
has a nice collection of advice called
Investing in Excellence
for college students. Check out the podcasts:
Robert Bjork, a cognitive psychologist who studies learning compiled this list of
advice from students on how to study. (PDF).
It's a quick read. Don't let the technical language put you off. The article is practical and has
Steven Chu at Samford University has a good
series of videos
on how to study effectively. The videos are short (7 to 8 minutes each) and
are based on our scientific understanding of how people learn. You should at least
the first video (via YouTube)
on "Beliefs that Make You Fail".
Preparing for and Taking Tests
Here's a list of tips adapted from a
a web page at Texas A&M University
on keeping calm during an exam.
- Prepare well in advance.
- Admit to yourself, "I will not know all of the answers."
- Allow yourself time to "warm-up." Don't panic if you don't know the first few questions.
- Pay attention to the test, not to yourself or others.
- If you notice you are not thinking well, relax yourself physically during the exam.
- Don't hesitate to ask for clarification.
- Read over the test and allot time for questions in proportion to their point value.
Making Good Use of a Practice Exam
Often I give practice exams. When I do, I usually provide the solutions. Many students
do not use practice exams well. For example, many students will look at the solutions
and think to themselves, "I understand", or "I could do that". These students
make the mistake of not using the practice exams to actually practice.
If you have access to a practice exam use
these steps to make the best use of it.
- Do most of your studying for the real exam before taking the practice exam.
- Do not look at the practice exam questions before you take the practice exam.
- Take the practice exam in a quiet environment.
- Try to simulate as closely as possible the experience of taking
the real exam. Do not have your textbook or notebook available
unless the exam is open-book. Stick to the time period allocated
to the real exam.
- Do not stop taking the exam to study some question that
you cannot answer. Just keep going.
- Have a special study-only notepad or sheet of paper. During
the exam when you encounter a topic that you don't understand, write
a quick note on the study-only notepad. Use this notepad
later to prepare additional studying.
- Take a break immediately after completing the practice exam. Resist
the urge to start working through the solutions as soon as you finish
the practice exam.
- After taking a break, compare your answers to the solutions and
give yourself a meaningful grade.
- Resume studying by consulting your study-only notepad and
the questions from the practice exam that you answered incorrectly.
The basic idea is to practice both the material and the self-management that
will help you do your best on the real exam. Your study-only notepad is the
exception. The study-only notepad allows you to have the
experience of "If only I had studied that before the exam"
before you actually take the exam.
Advice on Writing
I've collected a few miscellaneous links
about electronic communication and the Internet.
Thoughts on Learning
that challenges the common wisdom that you'll never forget how to ride a bike.
Courses with Web Pages
Notation: "F" = Fall Quarter, "W" = Winter Quarter, "Sp" = "Spring Quarter"
|Introduction to Engineering
|Introduction to Systems and Control
|Introduction to Design
|Engineering Fluid Mechanics
|Applied Fluid Mechanics and Thermodynamics
|Programming and Numerical Methods for Engineers
|Engineering Numerical Methods
|The Mechanical Engineering Profession
|Advanced Fluid Mechanics
|Transport and Rate Processes
|Applied Computational Fluid Dynamics
|Thermal Measurements in Electronic Equipment
|Design of Experiments
|Conceptual Design Project
|Detailed Design Project