Doctoral student claims engineering education honor
MOSCOW It wasn't Steve Zemke's track record in research and publishing that gave him the edge. It was because the University of Idaho graduate student's first research paper won him the Best Paper of the American Society of Engineering Education Conference in June.
His fresh "systems" approach to teaching a discipline as old as Pythagoras was chosen from 1,500 entries and came with a $3,000 prize.
The paper, "Tailoring Cooperative Learning Events for Engineering Classes," identified at least two cooperative learning tactics for engineering education. He tested 15 learning events for what factors made them effective.
"The findings were simple things, such as teaching concepts and their applications simultaneously," said Zemke, "traditional engineering education tends to teach concepts and applications separately which makes the learning more difficult. He also found that facilitating visual collaboration increases the student learning. "We simply leave graphing space on handouts so students can quickly compare each other's ideas visually."
"Steve has an innate talent for the type of systematic thinking that is needed in research," said Don Elger, Zemke's doctoral adviser, mechanical engineering professor and leader of UI Engineering's Enriched Learning Environment program. Other reviewer comments lauded Zemke's research rigor and structure and his direct and clear presentation.
From Post Falls, Zemke worked over 20 years in industry
for Bell Telephone Laboratories, General Instruments, Hewlett-Packard,
and Agilent Technologies as a mechanical engineer. He left industry
to earn a doctoral degree in mechanical engineering at UI. His ultimate
goal is teaching mechanical engineering and advancing the art of teaching.
In addition to his studies and research, he leads the UI engineering
mentor program, which employs undergraduates as peer mentors in design