Archive for November, 2008

Cold, Football, and SS Phone

November 16th, 2008
OSU at Illinois

OSU at Illinois

I picked up a cold last week.  It’s been with me since about Tuesday.  I thought I pretty well was getting it kicked.  And, then Sarah’s family came to watch the OSU-Illinois game.  I’m not a big football fan.  But, I did enjoy watching the game despite the icy wind.  Watching Beanie Wells jump an Illinois defender was definitely worth the price of admission (I was not fast enough with my camera and I don’t have a telephoto lens).  But, the cold came back—with a vengeance.  That put a damper on the 200 QSOs I hoped to contribute to the SMC total for SS Phone.  I made about 60 this morning, mostly on 40 meters, and mostly thanks to nice blistering run on 7187 kHz.  I was really weak on 20 meters.  I’ll probably make some more contacts this evening before the contest ends.

» Read more: Cold, Football, and SS Phone

Playing Pool: Implications for Engineering Education

November 4th, 2008
3 ball

3 ball

As I have written before (in the old WordPress version of the blog which I will eventually import into the present one), I have spent about the last six months learning to play pool. This has been a fascinating experience.  We have a player in our league who is almost always disruptive and socially a misfit.  But, he’s a phenomenal shooter.  He throws three sheets to the wind, takes absurdly low-probability shots, and makes them with frightening regularity.  Why?  I suspect it’s because he not only has the skill to make shots, he’s confident that it’s the right shot to take.  In the Scientific American article The Expert Mind, Philip Ross quotes chess master José Raúl Capablanca as saying, “I see only one move ahead, but it is always the correct one.”  This is also the root of the “don’t second-guess yourself” on standardized tests and the thesis of Malcolm Gladwell’s book Blink.

It would be hubris to suggest that confidence alone yields success (look no further than the White House for a counterexample).  However, the combination of experience, analysis, and confidence, act in synergy to produce results.  The challenge is to create an environment or a curriculum that prepares confident students without watering-down the process.  Confidence in engineering education is not limited to simply being confident that you can solve a given homework problem.  Confidence is understanding how you and your education fit into the engineering process.

Perhaps the most important take-home lesson for engineering educators is to subject yourself to humbling learning experiences from time-to-time.  This would make all of us better teachers.

» Read more: Playing Pool: Implications for Engineering Education