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A Good Fellow

Brian Self with ME students

Mechanical Engineering Professor Brian Self observe ME students Jase Sasaki and Devin Bodner on their model of a Daimler semi-truck and trailer that will be used for autonomous driving research.

An advocate of evidence-based teaching practices whose classic dynamics textbook is used by students nationwide, Brian Self was recently named a Fellow of the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE).

The ASEE, dedicated to the professional needs of engineering educators across all disciples, says fellows are chosen by its board of directors for outstanding and extraordinary qualifications and experience in engineering or engineering technology education. Fellows raise and deliberate key issues regarding engineering education and formulate position papers, sometimes proposing courses of action for the ASEE board.

Self, a mechanical engineering professor, said he has benefitted much from his ASEE membership.

“In my early career, presentations at ASEE gave me a number of great ideas to improve my teaching,” he said.

Brian Self works with ME student Emily Vassilev

Mechanical Engineering Professor Brian Self works with ME student Emily Vassilev.

As a result of contacts forged through the ASEE, he was asked to be part of a collaborative grant shortly after arriving at Cal Poly in 2006.

“That grant developed a number of project-based learning assignments in mechanical engineering,” he said. “Our team also hired over a dozen undergraduate students over the years and had them present at ASEE conferences.”

It was through his relationship with ASEE that he was asked to be a co-author a book, “Vector Mechanics for Engineers” (McGraw-Hill), which is used in classrooms nationwide.

Self previously worked in the Air Force Research Laboratories before teaching at the U.S. Air Force Academy for seven years. He has also taught at the Munich University of Applied Sciences and the Karlsruhe University of Applied Sciences.

Not only is he a member of the ASEE – he was a board member from 2008-2010. The organization, he said, has taught him quite a bit of knowledge that he has been able to pass on.

“Through ASEE, I have learned a lot about evidence-based teaching practices and used it to improve my own teaching and to mentor others,” he said. “Also, I have become much more aware of issues of inclusivity and diversity and served on the first ASEE Diversity Working Group.”

In other Cal Poly/ASEE news, Benjamin Lutz, a new member of the Mechanical Engineering Department faculty, is a 2017 ASEE Best Paper Award winner.

Best Paper Award Winner Benjamin Lutz

Benjamin Lutz won Best Paper Award at the 2017 ASEE. Here he is with co-author and doctoral advisor Marie Paretti accepting the award from Bev Watford, then president of ASEE.

The paper, “Exploring School-to-Work Transitions Through Reflective Journaling,” was co-authored with Marie Paretti from Virginia Tech. The paper explored the experiences of recent engineering graduates throughout the first 12 weeks of their jobs.

“While an engineering degree program is positioned as preparation for the professional workplace, researchers and practitioners note a critical misalignment across engineering school and engineering work,” the paper notes. “This misalignment arises, at least in part, from faculty and administrators’ misunderstandings about professional engineering work. As a result, recent engineering graduates can struggle to learn and adapt in their new organizational context.”

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