Engr 100: Intro to Engineering, Underwater Vehicle Design This is an intensive first-year course for engineering students that covers engineering design and technical communication. All first-year students are required to take this class. There are many sections to choose from, each with its own flavor. Mine, as you might image, has a naval architecture and marine engineering flavor. There are 2 rounds of design-build-test projects (the first round lets students muck it all up, and the second lets them learn from their mistakes). The second project is the major team project, and students work in teams of 5 to build Remotely Operated Vehicles over a 5-week period. I am the technical instructor, and I cram in brief intros to as many different engineering skills as I possibly can. 3D modeling, hydrostatics and hydrodynamics, ship resistance, computer programming, data analysis, data plotting, statistics, probability, risk, critical thinking, life cycle analysis, and ethics awareness. Whew! Thank goodness I have excellent co-instructors who handle the technical communications instruction.
Hydrostatics Short Course, Naval Engineering Education Center (NEEC) I created a series of short video lectures on basic hydrostatics concepts for the Naval Engineering Education Center (NEEC). These videos are aimed at familiarizing new Navy hires whom do not have prior ship experience with some basic ship terminology and concepts in how to keep your ship from sinking. Watch the videos here. I can't believe I'm on YouTube. (Well, in an official capacity, at least. It's not like the bar is very high for entry.)
I like to use a combination of physical experiments and computer simulation to solve engineering problems. Physical experiments can more closely represent what is happening in a system, but simulation will let you see inside that system and visualize specific relationships or data that you would not be able to get otherwise. It’s a win-win! I am also a big proponent of open source software. If you don’t already know LaTeX, stop reading this and go learn it right now.
Current Areas of Research
I am not very good at settling down to one topic of research. There are just too many interesting problems to solve! This is what I’m currently working on, though.
Hydrodynamics of marine structures
I conduct research on the hydrodynamics of a variety of marine structures. Everything from Navy ships to fish spawning reefs. I primarily use OpenFOAM to simulate the fluid flow and around structures. The simulations are validated against real world data such as model tests, ship sea trials, or river flow data.
Design loads for ships and marine structures using probabilistic methods
My dissertation work centered on using extreme value theory to generate extreme ship responses in a rational way. The details are here. In short, waves that might be dangerous for one ship might NOT be dangerous for a different type of ship. This approach uses what we know about a given ship’s movement in waves to find the waves that will cause big motions of the ship so that you only have to simulate a few cases to produce the extreme stresses the ship or structure will see. This information can then be handed off to the structural engineers so the ship structure can be designed to withstand these design loads. My original method was improved by the student following me, Dae-Hyun Kim, and the details of his work are here. The result is what we call the Design Loads Generator (DLG), and it runs very quickly because it is based on linear theory. The output of the DLG are sets of wave conditions that will lead to linear-based extreme responses. Unfortunately, the entire world is nonlinear. So, we take the DLG wave conditions and run them through high fidelity nonlinear codes, such as OpenFOAM, to generate more accurate maps of pressure and stress on the marine structure.
Effects of project-based learning and teams on first-year undergraduate engineering students
I have taught a first-year intro to engineering course for many years, and we are always fiddling with it and trying to make it a better course. Recently, my co-instructors and I decided to begin assessing whether our chosen approaches are working or not. Our first set of data on the evolution of student attitudes toward teamwork was presented at ASEE 2014.
Microplastic pollution in the Great Lakes
I grew up in Benton Harbor/St. Joseph, MI, and the Great Lakes have always been near and dear to my heart. When I stumbled on the issue of microplastic pollution, I decided I needed to act. After all, engineering is causing this problem, so engineering ought to help solve it! At IAGLR 2014, I chaired a session on microplastic pollution in the Great Lakes, and we brought together many of the active researchers in this area. This session also supported NOAA’s Great Lakes Land-based Marine Debris Action Plan.
I am a Research Investigator and Lecturer here at the University of Michigan. I have a wide range of research interests, so I’m always up to something new. I have taught Engr 100: Intro to Engineering — Underwater Vehicle Design since 2008, and it is the most fun ever. I am very excited to teach Engr 101: Introduction to Computer Programming in Fall 2015! This is a class I have been wanting to teach for awhile now. If you happened across this page because you are a new student in either of these classes, then welcome! I look forward to meeting you. If you are a random person, also welcome! I probably won’t get to meet you, alas.
I cut my teeth on Robert Heinlein’s “Future History” novels; hence, privacy has meaning to me. I am not on any social media other than LinkedIn, and I don’t pay too much attention even to that. Sorry. If you want to contact me, go ahead and email me. Go Blue!!