Teaching Tips: Engineering in the Real World

Here at ESN, we’ve found that some of our most appreciated posts share practical tips on learning various academic skills that emerging scholars can use to serve God and their neighbors. Teaching is a key way to serve students and love our neighbors by sharing knowledge, and it’s also something many emerging scholars are learning how to do. So in Spring 2017, we’re sharing teaching tips from people in our network. We hope readers will get some good ideas from each other, and also get a glimpse into how Christian scholars in a wide variety of settings exercise the creativity and knowledge God has given them to serve their students. Today’s tip is from ESN writer and engineering professor Tim Gilmour. 

One thing that has worked well for all my science/engineering courses is to keep a powerpoint of pictures or short videos of “real-world devices & products” related to concepts covered in the class, and to show one or two of these slides before every class period. In my field it is challenging to keep the students motivated, because as they are slogging through the mathematical details and techniques, they constantly wonder to themselves, “Is it worth it? Why am I doing this? What relevance does this material have to the real world?”  Showing relevant products or scenarios before each class tends to help the students keep up their motivation. I have used consumer products, military products, biomedical products, and especially devices for humanitarian situations like rescuing people after disasters, providing clean water or energy for people in developing countries, etc.  Modern students tend to be very humanitarian and social-justice oriented, so this excites them.

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Tim Gilmour

Tim Gilmour is Assistant Professor of Engineering at John Brown University in Siloam Springs, AR. He has published scientific papers in the areas of biomedical signal processing and neuroscience, and currently teaches electrical engineering, computer science, and embedded systems. In his free time he enjoys spending time with friends, reading, hiking, music, playing Frisbee and Ping-Pong, learning about other cultures, and spreading the good news about Jesus Christ.

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