Fubright Specialist Diary: Day 7 thru Day 8

Day 7 – Saturday, July 14, 2018

Yes, it is Saturday and it was the day to sleep in.  However, I woke up early, went for a walk around the hotel, and then took a morning nap.  Then in the afternoon, I walked a mile over to Subway for lunch to eat the familiar.   On the way, hawkers were selling fruits including mangosteen and the king of fruits called durian.  Durian is not allowed in hotels as it has a distinctly unpleasant smell for most.

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Photo: A notice in hotel elevator about the durian fruit.

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Photo: The mangosteen fruit – tastes like lychee.

I spent the rest of the afternoon reviewing the back-to-back workshops I was facilitating Monday thru Wednesday.

Day 8 – Sunday, July 15, 2018

I spent the early morning time before that on replying to some work emails and reviewing for the upcoming workshops.  My host invited me for lunch and it included a mango shake, curried shrimp, chicken curry, sambar, rice, and yogurt.  I thanked my host and his spouse for making me feel at home.  My host then took me to the capital city of the state of Perak named Ipoh for a tour. Ipoh is the second biggest city of Malaysia.  Of course, like any other major city, there is a place called Little India.  The place is lined with Indian shops.  We returned to Seri Iskandar for me to take some rest and give some final touches to the Monday’s scholarship of teaching and learning workshop.

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Photo: At Little India, Ipoh, Malaysia (Courtesy: Dr. Srinavasa Rao).

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Fulbright Specialist Diary: Day 6

Day 6, Friday, July 13, 2018

Today is the last day of the first week of my visit.  I had a free morning and used it to review the upcoming afternoon session on accreditation and curriculum.

In the afternoon, we had a listening and discussion session with the mechanical engineering faculty about accreditation items, mostly on five topics – ethics, continuous quality improvement, lifelong learning, oral and written communication, and teamwork.  We exchanged ideas about these topics on how to implement and evaluate these topics in the classroom.  The idea that although we teach ethics and students may not follow those standards in the university are universal ones.  I believe that we still need to meet the minimum standards of teaching ethics, give examples, and let our students reflect on case studies.

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Photo: A sharing session with the department of mechanical engineering faculty of UTP, Malaysia.

In the evening, there was an after-Eid celebration at the university.  Families of staff and faculty were invited to an evening of music and food.  I tried several different foods including tomato rice, curried chicken, shrimp fritters, and fruit salad with local fruits.  I met several faculty members from other departments and we shared our common interest in improving teaching and hence student learning.  I also met an instructor of Numerical Methods, a course I teach every semester as well.  He was already aware of the open courseware we have developed.

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This material is based upon work supported by the Fulbright Specialist Grant and the products of the National Science Foundation Grants# 0126793, 0341468, 0717624,  0836981, 0836916, 0836805, 1322586, 1609637.  Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation or the Fulbright Program.

Fulbright Specialist Diary: Day 5

Day 5 – Thursday, July 12, 2018

The day started early as I facilitated a workshop on flipped learning.

Workshop Title: Flipped Learning

Workshop Description: With computers, being affordable, smartphones becoming ubiquitous and internet available at low cost, flipped learning is becoming more popular as pedagogy. Flipped classrooms take the transmission of content from the classroom to home and the assimilation of the content at home to the classroom. In this workshop, we will discuss the differences between traditional, blended and flipped learning, the tools and techniques used to teach a flipped classroom, the challenges and opportunities of teaching a flipped classroom, and the evidence or lack thereof of the effectiveness of flipped classrooms in higher education. The presenter has taught partially- and fully-flipped and blended classes, and will present the personal lessons learned in the process. The audience will be then be engaged in a discussion on how they would teach a flipped class.

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Photo: Participants of the flipped learning workshop.  Taking them through Bloom’s taxonomy without the pyramid and hierarchy. 

UTP is ahead of its times by having CeTAL, a center of excellence for teaching and learning on its campus.  They have a building of their own with several meeting rooms around a circular lobby.  The meeting rooms are set up in a workshop style with tables that are round.  The facilitator can be anywhere in the room and TV displays are set up on all sides.  The layout of the room was impressive and not found in most universities including my own.  There were about 20 participants and they asked highly categorical questions.  They also contributed to the discussion through several reflection exercises and introduced me to tools that I was not aware of – webclicker, etc.

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Photo: CeTAL – the center of excellence of teaching and learning at UTP, Malaysia

The workshop was followed by lunch sponsored by CeTAL UTP.  I talked to several faculty members at the table and they shared how they are using evidence-based practices in the classroom including active learning, flipped classrooms, and metacognition.  I found out that UTP has a part of its annual faculty evaluation index dedicated to the use of evidence-based techniques in teaching courses.  The faculty member has to demonstrate that they have used these techniques through self-reporting and evidence. New faculty members are observed in the classroom so that they can be provided with feedback and suggestions for improving their teaching techniques.

In the afternoon, I concluded the short course on composite materials.  Using only the whiteboard to explain the macromechanics of composite materials resulted in several interactive discussions on the use of principal stresses, the transformation of stresses and use of failure theories.  At the end of the class, we took a group photograph where they are demonstrating cross-ply laminates (plies at zero and ninety-degree angles).

IMG_4035.JPGPhoto: Composites short-course graduate student participants pose for a picture at UTP, Malaysia. The hands depict a cross-ply laminate. 

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This material is based upon work supported by the Fulbright Specialist Grant and the products of the National Science Foundation Grants# 0126793, 0341468, 0717624,  0836981, 0836916, 0836805, 1322586, 1609637.  Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation or the Fulbright Program.

Fulbright Specialist Diary: Day 4

Day 4, Wednesday, July 11, 2018

My host picked me up early to meet with the department chair.  She welcomed me to UTP and I was given a nice vacant office.  I set up my Surface Pro and it connected seamlessly to the university guest network. I replied to some work emails, called my spouse, and started doing final preparations for the afternoon short course on Introduction to Composite Materials.

Course Title: Introduction to Composite Materials

Course Description: This would be a six-period course of 50 minutes each where the mechanics of composite materials is presented. Because of the limitation of six-period time, we will concentrate on a short introduction to composites (2 periods), and macromechanics of a lamina (4 periods).

Photo: Half of the airframe of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner is made of advanced composite materials (Courtesy: Boeing Aircraft Company)

More than 25 graduate students from various engineering disciplines showed up.  Along with the domestic students, there were international students from Nigeria, Pakistan, India, and Indonesia.

I presented an overview of composite materials including classification, history, applications, manufacturing, advantages, and drawbacks, etc.  We also went through a concept inventory of the background materials from the mechanics of materials course. The results and ensuing discussion was quite revealing to them as well as me, and the misconceptions were similar to what I observed back in the USA.  It confirmed to me that learning in higher education has room for improvement throughout the world.  At the end of today’s class, several students talked to me at length about their research projects in areas such as welding, plates and shell mechanics, and nanocomposites.  They also liked the interactivity of the class and I was glad to see them staying engaged for three hours (yes, we did take a short break in between).

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This material is based upon work supported by the Fulbright Specialist Grant and the products of the National Science Foundation Grants# 0126793, 0341468, 0717624,  0836981, 0836916, 0836805, 1322586, 1609637.  Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation or the Fulbright Program.

Fulbright Specialist Program Diary: Day 1 to 3

I am writing this blog for each day of a Fulbright Specialist program I participated in to visit my host institution of UTP Malaysia.  The trip lasted 18 days (July 8-July 25) and that included travel time.

“The Fulbright Specialist Program is a unique opportunity for U.S. academics and established professionals to engage in two- to six-week, project-based exchanges at host institutions across the globe.”  Read more about the program.

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Photo: The Chancellor’s building at UTP, Malaysia.

The opportunity arose when a professor of mechanical engineering, Dr. Srinavasa Rao of UTP Malaysia was visiting Tampa in 2017 for the annual international conference of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers.  I told him about the program when he mentioned his institution’s high interest in engineering education.  Eight months later, after he had made an application to the program at the Malaysian embassy as a host institution and had arranged university funds for host-institution responsibility (boarding, lodging, and local transportation), I was ready for this endeavor.

My task was to facilitate four workshops on engineering education, give guest lectures and conduct tutorials in my favorite course of Numerical Methods, teach a short course on Mechanics of Composite Materials, meet with individual faculty and administration, and create a plan for the future exchange of students and faculty between UTP and USF.

Day 1 – Sunday, July 8, 2018

Getting up at 3AM to go on a flight time of 27 hours and a travel time of 36 hours is not very many people look forward to, but they sure look forward to what they will do at the destination.  The flight took me from my home city of Tampa, FL to Dallas, TX to Hong Kong City and finally to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.  After a 2-hour flight delay in the last leg of the flight, I reached Kuala Lumpur next day at midnight.

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Photo: Flight Path from Tampa to Kuala Lumpur (Courtesy: Great Circle Mapper ) 

Day 2 – Monday, July 9, 2018

It is late in the night of July 9 and I am here at the Kuala Lumpur airport going through immigration, customs, and baggage claim.  My host, Professor Rao has traveled all the way from Seri Iskandar, Perak to take me back to UTP.  However, since it was late, we spent the night in Kuala Lumpur. It was later than 2:30am that we reached the hotel.  The hotel was right across the Twin Towers of Petronas and I had a partial view of it from my hotel window.

I could not sleep as I either had jet lag or had my share of the Z’s on the plane rides.  A 12-hour time difference and jet lag work well if one wants to talk to their loved ones back in the USA.

Day 3, Tuesday, July 10, 2018

The previous day entry of this blog was that of the wee morning hours of July 10 but who is counting with the jet lag and the time difference of exactly 12 hours.  Before leaving for Seri Iskandar, my host and I walked across the street for a morning walk to see the Twin Towers.  With a few pictures and some selfies, it was nice to see this engineering marvel of the tallest twin towers in the world.  The towers looked exquisite and the architectural design, at least to me, was very pleasing to the eye.

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Photo: The Twin Towers of Petronas (Courtesy: Dr. Srinavasa Rao) 

The ride to Seri Iskandar, the hometown of UTP, was little in getting out of the traffic jams of Kuala Lumpur but mostly on a well-built highway E1 that runs north-south between the border with Singapore on the south and Thailand on the north. The highway is a pleasure to drive with greenery and hills all around you. The highway is full of palm trees – no wonder they produce so much palm oil.  Yes, they do drive on the left and it does take a little to get used to it.  We stopped at a traveler’s stop close to Tapah and guess what two fast food places are there – KFC and Dunkin Donuts.  There were a few other choices but to avoid any sudden food changes, my host recommends KFC.  It was a good choice – they serve the chicken with rice and coleslaw.

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Photo: The familiar KFC and Dunkin’ Donuts at a traveler’s stop in Tapah, Malaysia

We reached the hotel at about 4PM.  The receptionist gave me coupons for breakfast and a print out of how to access the internet.  You get 500MB of data on two devices for each day and you have to get new usernames and passwords at the front desk every day. The network speeds are meager – two Mb/s for upload and download but they are sufficient for my work – there is no need to be watching Netflix or YouTube even during personal time.

I checked into the room.  It is spacious, the bed is comfortable and there is a rain shower in the bathroom.  There are no closets in the room but there is enough cubbyhole space to put your clothes and belongings for an extended stay.  A working desk with chair is also available, and the room has a refrigerator and a safe.  There are a generous number of outlets throughout the room.

It is time to call my mom in India first and later my spouse.  I love them both and the reason I called my Mom first was that the time difference was more favorable!

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This material is based upon work supported by the Fulbright Specialist Grant and the products of the National Science Foundation Grants# 0126793, 0341468, 0717624,  0836981, 0836916, 0836805, 1322586, #1609637.  Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation or the Fulbright Program.

An FE Exam Math Problem in Differential Calculus

“The Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam is generally the first step in the process of becoming a professional licensed engineer (P.E.). It is designed for recent graduates and students who are close to finishing an undergraduate engineering degree from an EAC/ABET-accredited program” – FE Exam NCEES

For most engineering majors, mathematics is a required part of the examination. Here is a question from calculus.

inflection_point

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An FE Exam Math Problem in Analytical Geomtery

“The Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam is generally the first step in the process of becoming a professional licensed engineer (P.E.). It is designed for recent graduates and students who are close to finishing an undergraduate engineering degree from an EAC/ABET-accredited program” – FE Exam NCEES

For most engineering majors, mathematics is a required part of the examination. Here is a question in analytical geometry.

perimeter of triangle fe examThis post is brought to you by