AUTAR KAW

AUTAR KAW is a professor of mechanical engineering at the University of South Florida. He is a recipient of the 2012 U.S Professor of the Year award from the Council for Advancement and Support of Education and the Carnegie Foundation for Advancement of Teaching.  The award is the only national program to recognize excellence in undergraduate education.

Professor Kaw believes that the most essential function of a university, including research universities, will continue to be on the learning side. As much as we need more qualified college graduates, we also need highly talented graduates to invent the next big thing – it could be an economic renewable energy resource or a cure for chronic diseases of the mind and body. If we want to truly create opportunities for our future generations, we have to first address the socioeconomic divide in our country. To address it for higher education while maintaining the current meritocracy which favors the wealthy, we as a society should fully sponsor the education of the top academic standing quartile who belong to the lowest income quartile families. After all, 17% of the brightest high school graduates in our nation do belong in that category.

Professor Kaw received his B.E. Honors degree in Mechanical Engineering from Birla Institute of Technology and Science (BITS) India in 1981, and his degrees of Ph.D. in 1987 and M.S. in 1984, both in Engineering Mechanics from Clemson University, SC. He joined the University of South Florida in 1987.

Professor Kaw’s main scholarly interests are in engineering education research, adaptive learning, open courseware development, bascule bridge design, fracture mechanics, composite materials, and the state and future of higher education.

Professor Kaw’s research has been funded by National Science Foundation, the Air Force Office of Scientific Research, the Florida Department of Transportation, Research and Development Laboratories, Wright Patterson Air Force Base, and Montgomery Tank Lines.

Funded by National Science Foundation (2002-23), under Professor Kaw’s leadership, he and his colleagues from around the nation have developed, implemented, refined, and assessed online resources for open courseware in Numerical Methods.  This courseware receives 1,000,000+ page views, 1,800,000+ views of the YouTube lectures, and 100,000+ annual visitors to the Numerical Methods Guy blog.

Professor Kaw has written more than 115 refereed technical papers, and his opinion editorials have appeared in the St. Petersburg Times, Chronicle Vitae, and Tampa Tribune.

Professor Kaw’s work has been covered/cited/quoted in many media outlets, including Chronicle of Higher Education, Inside Higher Education, U.S. Congressional Record, Florida Senate Resolution, ASEE Prism, Tampa Bay Times, Tampa Tribune, WUSF, BayNews9, Fox13, WLRN, and Voice of America.

Professor Kaw has received several national, regional, and university awards, including the 2012 U.S. Professor of the Year Award, the 2011 ASEE National Teaching Award, the 2004 ASME Curriculum Innovation Award, and the 1991 SAE Ralph-Teetor Award.

Look at Professor Kaw’s curriculum vitae for complete details or visit ORCID iD iconhttps://orcid.org/0000-0002-3976-6375

2022 News

OCTOBER 2022

Published the Numerical Methods with Applications textbook as a self-published OER.

SEPTEMBER 2022

Published the Programming Concepts with MATLAB textbook as a self-published OER.

JULY 27, 2022

Gave an invited talk on “Engineering Education Perspectives” at Delhi Technical University, Delhi on July 27, 2022.

JUNE 2022

Presented the Best of ASEE Computers in Education Division paper, “Development, Implementation, Refining and Revising of Adaptive Platform Lessons for an Engineering Course,” at the ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Minneapolis, MN, June 26-29, 2022.

Was a co-author of “Do Metacognitive Instruction and Repeated Reflection Improve Outcomes?” in the NSF Grantees Poster Session at the ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Minneapolis, MN, June 26-29, 2022.

MAY 2022

Published the Matrix Algebra textbook as a self-published OER and at Libretext.

Facilitated a workshop at USF College of Engineering on “How to Engage in the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SOTL)”, on May 10, 2022.

APRIL 2022

Gave a webinar on “Simple ways to improve students’ classroom performance and experience” organized by Delhi Technical University with 500 participants.

Teaching Statement

In the December 12, 2003 issue of Chronicle of Higher Education, the question What Makes a Teacher Great? was asked of the 2003 CASE U.S. Professor of the Year winners. Although I reluctantly agreed with their view that it is hard to categorically answer such a question, I believe that there are some necessary traits of great teachers ― being organized, understanding the importance of the first day of class, using teaching tools effectively, being compassionate, giving rapid and relevant feedback, asking questions, and having high expectations. In recent years, I have been regularly teaching three courses including Computational Methods, Programming Concepts for Mechanical Engineers, and Laminated Composite Materials. My ongoing quest for improving pedagogy is based on evidence-based research, and as an example for a course in Computational Methods include flipping the classroom where the location of transmission and assimilation of the course gets reversed, improving the pre-class learning and pre-requisite knowledge through adaptive learning platform lessons so that students of all abilities can reach a reasonable competency level, experiencing numerical methods via a real-life problem-centered approach to challenge linear thinking, foster problem-solving skills of ill-defined problems, improve self-efficacy, and develop critical thinking skills, evaluating data collected via in-class experiments that are low-cost, low-space, and low-setup time to make connections between experimental data and analysis,using clicker quizzes that assess conceptual knowledge and create an inclusive basis for peer-to-peer and instructor discussion (many myths have been busted through this process), having conceptual and procedural questions in the in-class assignments to develop competency and confidence in both,assigning online homework quizzes that are algorithmic and repeatable, giving immediate feedback, and creating effective and efficient time-on-task opportunities, making course resources available openly and in different forms to facilitate flexible knowledge transfer,using problem sets based on Bloom’s taxonomy so that students gain knowledge as well as assimilation at the highest levels,having online study hall discussions of assigned problems via tools such as Piazza to create more active engagement, giving group projects to develop teamwork and communication skills but limited in number as our students in mid-tier universities have many other obligations outside of the classroom and that individual work is critical for students to “learn about how they learn”,assigning projects where students are asked to solve problems that are open-ended, realistic, and ill-defined, and where for some projects, no data is given ― some of it has to be assumed while other data have to be found from other sources.

I believe that the classroom is not just an avenue for learning but also for meaningful social interaction. Treating students with respect and creating a vibrant atmosphere in the classroom is essential. The informal contact during office hours, in hallways, before class starts (I get to the classroom 15 minutes before starting time), immediately after class (I am willing to meet them outside the classroom), and at the student organization meetings is critical in building their interpersonal skills and in enhancing the human dimension to the faculty-student interaction. The latter is personally important to me, when in engineering, unlike other fields of study, faculty-student interactions “are less likely to be perceived as positive”, and “seniors are less satisfied with faculty and TAs than first-years are, although seniors interact with faculty and TAs more”.

Time and again, I find extremists hijacking the debate on how a college course should be taught. Articles even in the mainstream media abound on traditional lecturing vs. overdosing on active learning. On top of that, we have the cellphone/laptop ban in the classroom debate as well. In a world where only polarized views get attention, we can ignore such debates, and meet in the middle. This middle road is not a compromise in civility or for pleasing everyone but is based on the evidence-based Universal Design Learning (UDL) principles which are naturally inclusive of our diverse student body. These principles include 1) multiple platform (videos, simulations, textbook, etc.) resources, and an example of that is the open courseware of Numerical Methods for which I am the lead developer, 2) multiple means of expression for students ― I use various types of assessments, the student can opt for weights of these assessments within reason, and choose the form of summative assessment (choice of final examination or project), 3)multiple forms of engagement ― I use personal response systems followed by peer-to-peer discussions, in-class experiments, and individual as well as group projects.

Following these three major principles of UDL not only makes learners masters of the content but of the learning process as well.

Research Statement

RESEARCH STATEMENT

Professor Kaw’s main scholarly interests are in engineering education research, flipped learning, adaptive learning, open courseware development, bascule bridge design, fracture mechanics, composite materials, computational nanomechanics, and the state and future of higher education.

Professor Kaw’s research has been funded by National Science Foundation, Air Force Office of Scientific Research, Florida Department of Transportation, Research and Development Laboratories, Wright Patterson Air Force Base, and Montgomery Tank Lines.

Since 2002, under Professor Kaw’s leadership, he and his colleagues from around the nation have developed, implemented, refined and assessed online resources for open courseware in Numerical Methods. This courseware annually receives more than a million page views, 1,800,000 views of the YouTube lectures and 100,000 annual visitors to the Numerical Methods Guy blog. Professor Kaw’s has written more than 100 refereed technical papers and his opinion editorials have appeared in the St. Petersburg Times, Chronicle Vitae, and Tampa Tribune.

Service Statement

SERVICE STATEMENT

As part of the trinity of being a professor, I believe that service is an integral part of any profession. I enjoy service that is behind the scenes and at the same time has a quiet service leadership component.

UTP Malaysia Fulbright Picture With Students of Computational Methods CourseThe role of the connected world has helped me do this in more ways than one. From heading a search committee at the departmental level to answering questions from the Numerical-Methods-YouTube-channel subscribers, from being a reluctant keynote speaker at an education conference to facilitating an engineering education workshop, each contribution adds up synergistically in its own way.