Courses Taught
SE101:  Engineering Graphics & Design

Teaching Interests
First-year through capstone design courses, environmental engineering, science/engineering learning, educational research methodologies

ALT: Faculty research video: Molly Goldstein

Teaching Philosophy

Early Bird
Oh if you’re a bird, be an early bird
And catch the worm for your breakfast plate.
If you’re a bird, be an early bird
But if you’re a worm, sleep late.
-Shel Silverstein, Where the Sidewalk Ends

Goals. The above poem reflects one of the main aims in my teaching – To help students learn to realize their strengths and weaknesses and plan accordingly. I believe as an engineer and as a teacher it is my responsibility to challenge and support my students in pursuit of three learning goals: (1) Foster the ability to think critically about interaction of systems, technologies, markets, the environment, and society (2) Develop an understanding of the complexities involved in making trade-off decisions, and (3) Enable a pathway for students to identify themselves as engineers. I help students achieve these learning goals when I effectively teach problem solving, critical thinking, and foster development of both written and verbal communication.

The primary skills that I seek to develop in my students are a thorough knowledge of how to solve technical engineering problems and how these solution procedures relate to the basic engineering principles from which they are developed. Solutions in the “real world” are often not straightforward and require that an engineer make trade-off decisions, balancing strengths and weaknesses of possible outcomes. These skills are critical because in either an industrial or academic setting, engineers may need to modify the solution procedure to account for additional considerations. Beyond the classroom, engineers take on higher levels of independence, greater uncertainty, and increased stakes. The confidence and ability to check one’s work, to appropriately simplify a problem, and to use sound judgment are essential for an engineer. Moreover, an understanding of how their work impacts other systems including the environment and society are of paramount importance.

Methods. I emphasize problem solving together with critical thinking. When presenting example problems, I first sketch out the logical structure, and encourage students to ‘break apart’ problems in a systematic manner. Emphasizing the logical structure of the material provides the students with the necessary mental framing to build a deeper understanding. In addition, by breaking up the problem into smaller steps, students are often able to provide the details involved in each step, thereby engaging them in the process, and increasing their confidence in their mastery of the material. Regular homework, occasional quizzes, laboratory assignments, and examinations can be a very effective element of teaching and learning. In my classes, I give all of the above. The homework assignments help students in understanding and applying the methods emphasized. I believe that active learning should take place in the classroom to transfer the knowledge effectively and motivate the students to reach their full potential. My classroom provides an interactive environment where the students learn by examples. I make every effort to provide adequate resources and tools for the students. Hands-on laboratory experiments, opportunities to work in teams, and group design projects are essential components of my teaching styles. I encourage reflection, and provide opportunities for students to consider their growth as future engineers.

Philosophy. My enthusiasm for teaching stems from my love of design and commitment to my students. Students are the most important part of my teaching. I want to show the students how excited I am about teaching and motivate them about learning. I prepare for lectures and organize and present materials I believe will help students learn more effectively, thus demonstrating my dedication to their education and their success in learning. I feel one of the most important elements of teaching at any level is to show students that they matter. I am upfront and honest with my students regarding my expectations, and use the syllabus as a contractual promise between the students and me.