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Civil Engineering

Teaching Philosophy

Engineering design provides the infrastructure necessary to sustain civilization and provide for quality of life.  The challenge for engineering education is to invest students with the skills and competencies necessary to design solutions for the challenges and opportunities humanity faces today and in coming generations.  I contribute towards this grand endeavor in two ways: 1) Teaching hydraulic design concepts and their field application to control the movement, distribution, and quality of water, and 2) Teaching how to capture the fundamental principles and properties of nature in mathematical expressions, implement these equations in computer models, and use these models to understand physical processes and to design solutions.

The next generation of engineers faces broad global problems in water resources: scarcity issues, balancing the often competing needs of urban development vs. rural agriculture vs. ecosystem function, adaptation to climate change (predicted warmer temperatures with the need for more water and more extreme events), restoration of polluted waters, etc.  Our students are uniquely positioned to deal with such issues with the advent of a plethora of electronic data reserves, computational platforms, and internet connectivity.  Engineers must be prepared to wrestle with seemingly intractable problems, where various alternatives must be evaluated to make the best possible choices.

Throughout courses, I utilize active learning techniques to introduce basic principles and processes using hands-on laboratory apparatus designed and built by teams of students in my classes. Case studies are conducted where teams of students: locate and organize data using modern GIS computer tools, develop and apply computational models, develop design recommendations, and justify their design to their peers in the classroom. These case studies and supplementary material explore how to solve practical problems in both the Kansas region and internationally.

Synergistic Educational Activities

I have reformed curriculum to: 1) integrate research and technological advances into the curriculum; 2) emphasize holistic, multi-disciplined approaches to engineering; and 3) implement active learning, with exploration of case based studies.

  • Developed the foundation for a new interdisciplinary program in water resources crossing the university, with the first course being GRAD 740: Water and Society: Interdisciplinary Foundations.
  • Collaborated with staff in Engineering Computing Center and Division of Continuing Education to utilizing the latest technology in engineering education. Developed infrastructure to digitally record courses and disseminate via K-State Online in 2005, and recorded CE654 in Fall 2005, as the first course at K-State to utilize this now common technology.
  • Developed open-ended laboratory assignments for CE 552 Hydraulic Engineering that require students to identify data needs, collect data from local engineers and other sources, and design and construct new laboratory apparatus for the Hydraulics Laboratory.

2017: students designed pump to operate turbine and measure power generation and efficiency.

2016: students designed and constructed a low head micro turbine to generate electricity from the excess power capacity of water moving in pipes.

2015: students designed and constructed a new ram pump for the hydraulics lab.

2014: students designed an aqueduct to transport water from the Missouri River to western Kansas and computed energy requirements.

2013: students built team sand tanks to study beach erosion processes of Hurricane Sandy in New York Harbor.

2012: students learned to apply the US Corps of Engineers HECRAS tools and LIDAR GIS data to study flooding of Wildcat Creek.

2011: students constructed a scaled version of the Deepwater Horizon well to learn how to clog a well using top-kill and bottom-kill techniques.

2010: a model of a geyser formed in a storm drain in Minneapolis was constructed to learn about water hammer and bubble release in a horizontal pipe.

2009: we developed a ram pump to illustrate water hammer and technology that may be implemented without electricity in developing countries.

2007: students developed models of the earthen dam at Tuttle Creek Reservoir using a shake table to analyze the impacts of earthquakes on dam stability.

2006: students developed models of a levy to understand mechanisms of levy breach in New Orleans.

2005: students designed a wave tank to explore relationships between wavelength and water depth, enabling understanding of phenomena such as tsunamis and harbor resonance.

2004: students designed a new clear pvc pipe demonstration to visualize pipe flow.

  • Worked with Groundwater Management Districts and other agencies in Kansas to develop team projects for CE 654 Design of Groundwater Flow Systems and CE 854 Analysis of Groundwater Flow to understand groundwater flow and transport.

2012-2016 worked with students to individually identify a groundwater sustainability challenge and perform a field investigation, gather data, develop conceptual and computer models, and they justified their design solution to the class, visiting the Konza Prairie for a day field trip each semester.

2011, visited the Kansas River and Konza Prairie to study groundwater/surface water interactions through streambeds.

2010, participated in the USCorp of Engineers dam inspection and studied seepage of water through earthen dams.

2009, visited Cheyenne Bottoms and a cattle feedlot to study how to balance water use for agriculture and for nature.

2007, visited Konza Prairie and studied the impact of phreatophytes on the hydrologic cycle in a native prairie ecosystem,

2006, visited Phase 1 of the Artificial Recharge Project for Wichita and studied the impact of artificial recharge using water with different quality than pre-recharge groundwater.

2005, visited GMD 2 in Halstead and studied well impairment by pumping of neighboring wells.

2004, visited artificial recharge project test phase and studied the impact of artificial recharge on regional groundwater flow patterns.

2003: visited GMD 2 in Halstead and studied the impact of a variety of tools on mitigating groundwater declines.

2002: visited GMD 4 in Colby and modeled regional groundwater impairment caused by irrigation.

  • Bringing research to the next generation of engineers by hosting students from local elementary schools to visit the Hydraulics Lab and Computer Lab at K-State.  Presented these Water Experiments to 3rd and 6th grade scholars from Lee Elementary School in 2006, 2009, 2012, and the Aquatic Adventures with middle school students in the KSU STEM Summer Program 2013.