My teaching philosophy is to help students develop confidence in their self, in their knowledge of technical subject matter, and in their ability to apply that knowledge. A student will perform as a leader if he or she has the confidence to utilize the acquired knowledge, coupled with core values instilled in them during the learning process. Acquiring the necessary technical knowledge is accomplished by helping students develop a solid understanding of technology fundamentals. I provide environments where students learn how to attack difficult problems by recognizing that the larger and more difficult task can be subdivided into a series of smaller tasks solvable through basic principles. I subscribe to Albert Einstein’s principle that problems can only be solved by a different type of thinking than that which generated the problem. In today’s world we are seeing disaster after disaster arising from thinking only technically or economically. A person’s value system must be inextricably coupled with technical knowledge. Only then are solutions to energy needs, food, water, transportation, etc. sustainable.
For students planning on any sector of the workforce there are three additional considerations that are critical to their success which I teach and mentor: theoretical technical skills, experimental skills and practical experience working in groups where they learn to develop and sell their ideas. The ability to produce an innovative design and then persuade funding sources or management to go forward is one leadership element which defines successful individuals. Through my experience in project and program management I have found that design success and project management are strongly related. This linkage is very powerful. One must use project management to realize a successful design. I provide group based projects in my classes which offers one opportunity to reinforce these concepts. Utah Valley University’s focus on engaged learning resonates with me.
My international and global experiences have taught me that it is critical that students learn and understand how to function in this new global era. Undergraduates can learn to design for local conditions in a global arena. For example, I will teach students to develop innovative solutions limited by third world conditions as opportunities arise. I also teach it is important to embrace the uniqueness of those around you allowing for better solutions to be developed.
I not only see myself in a successful classroom environment but also in a mentoring environment through activities such as class projects and social engineering projects, as well as extracurricular activities and engineering/technical societies. For example, I have worked hard at developing mentoring opportunities for individuals and have seen success in my efforts thus far. I assisted in developing a formal mentoring program for high potential employees at ATK. I believe the educational process needs to start early and therefore have spent numerous hours volunteering my time at local schools and universities motivating young women to stay in technical fields. I was the developer and chair for the SheTech Explorer event which grew from 350 9th-12th grade female students to 888 registrants in just two years and the event received acclaim in the press. This event encourages young women to enter and stay in STEM fields through mentoring and providing role models for the young women.
The motto of the university I attended is “Enter to learn. Go forth to serve.” This creed is exemplified by Utah Valley University whose commitment to education allows for the development of leaders. While teaching at the Australian Defence Force Academy it was readily apparent to me that I was teaching future leaders of their country who would be making critical decisions. I have since realized that every student is a potential leader who will be making important decisions. It is imperative that students are taught how to make significant, ethical decisions. By developing critical thinking along with compassion and understanding of individuals, the student is better prepared to go forth and serve in their business and community.
Through teaching, mentoring and example I will instill lifelong learning principles. The rapid pace of technology advancement has created the imperative to teach students how to learn and remain current yet at the same time maintain core values. The high ethics, critical thinking and real world capability taught at Utah Valley University form an important component of lifelong learning, encompassing principles from both UVU and ABET.