Engineering innovation improves students’ skills

Congratulations to Associate Professor Tom Cochrane who received the College of Engineering Teaching Innovation Prize recently.

Tom Cochrane with his Innovation Award
Tom Cochrane with his Innovation Award

The prize was for his ‘Preparing engineers for digital video communication’ framework, which enables students (and academics) to use video technology to communicate engineering results effectively.

Associate Professor Cochrane says communication skills are an integral part of an engineer’s formal education, but practice is needed to improve presentations.

PVC Engineering Jan Evans-Freeman presenting Tom Cochrane with his Innovation Award.
PVC Engineering Jan Evans-Freeman presenting Tom Cochrane with his Innovation Award.

“The ability to communicate effectively is a professional skill that all engineers should possess, but class sizes can limit students’ opportunities to do oral presentations and receive feedback on their skills.”

In response, Associate Professor Cochrane flipped the class room experience on its head by having students create video presentations to teach each other about different topics. Fellow classmates could then evaluate others’ skills, thereby learning skills for themselves in the process.

170725 Virtual Pres Tom CochraneThe technology is easy to use and allows for various learning and assessment opportunities.

“Self-awareness and practice are key elements for preparing engineers for digital video communication.

“Viewing yourself in a video can be daunting, but it does motivate you to practice and improve your communication skills,” Associate Professor Cochrane says.

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