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Exploring Not Creating Stress

I spent the last few days in Puerto Rico with a group of department chairs and other leaders from the American Society of Mechanical Engineers. I, the only non mechanical engineer in the bunch, was there with colleagues, Ilene Busch-Vishniac, Eann Patterson, Constantin Chassapis and Darrell Guillaume, presenting on "Attracting, Retaining and Advancing Broader Student Populations."

My favorite presentation was Eann's which was called, yes "Exploring Not Creating Stress". He presented some of the applications he has been developing to help explain mechanical engineering concepts (no link yet but as soon as there is one, I'll post on it). He is doing things like using skateboarders and unicyclists on planks to demonstrate bending moments and shear stress, jewelry pendants to explore thermal stress and statically indeterminate loads and, my favorite, cooking sausages as an application of Mohrís circle of stress.

As part of his presentation, Eann had the mechanical engineers attending go into small groups to brainstorm applications for dynamics or thermodynamics. While not all of the small groups paid attention to diversity as they worked, a number did. And I heard men in two groups challenge their colleagues' ideas as not being of interest most women and suggest ways to make applications that would be of greater interest to women students.

Why is this important? Integrating applications into the teaching of fundamental concepts has been found to increase women's recruitment and retention in computer science and engineering.

Thanks Eann.