CoE Faculty Honored As 150th Anniversary Professors

CoE Faculty Honored As 150th Anniversary Professors


College of Engineering faculty member Chuck Krousgrill has been honored as a 150th Anniversary Professor by Purdue’s Office of the Provost.

Charles Krousgrill, a professor of mechanical engineering, is among 10 Purdue faculty recognized with the award for their work as high-impact master teachers.

Krousgrill, whose relationship with Purdue began as an undergraduate (BS ‘75) and continued when he joined the Mechanical Engineering faculty, has taught in the College of Engineering for 38 years. He is a pioneer in mechanics education, focusing on undergraduate education. Krousgrill is a founding fellow of Purdue’s University Teaching Academy and pioneer of the Freeform Classroom that since 2009 has allowed students in challenging engineering courses to access hundreds of instructional videos and animations while encouraging interaction with each other and faculty online.

“As an educator, I would like to feel that students in my class have learned how to learn. Our teaching cannot be just the presentation of facts or remembering equations and formulas. Students can always look up the facts and formulas on their own. Our students are best served if we can facilitate the learning of the fundamentals and how these principles fit together,” Krousgrill says.

Krousgrill’s numerous awards include being an eight-time recipient of the School of Mechanical Engineering’s Harry L. Solberg Best Teacher Award, which is selected by the School’s student body; a four- time recipient of the College of Engineering’s A.A. Potter Best Teacher Award; and a recipient of the University’s Murphy Undergraduate Teaching Award. Krousgrill was recognized by the Purdue Alumni Association in 2010 with the Special Boilermaker Award for his continual efforts to improve the undergraduate experience. In 2011, the American Society of Engineering Education gave him the Archie Higdon Distinguished Educator Award for educational accomplishments in his field.

Working with colleagues at the University of Virginia, University of Akron, and Smith College, Krousgrill has advanced mechanics education through the use of Web2.0 technologies, including blogs and wikis. He was honored with the 2010 Helping Students Learn Award in recognition of his creation of a virtual, personalized learning environment for the hundreds of students who take Purdue’s sophomore level dynamics course.

The 150th Anniversary Professors were selected by a committee of 13 senior faculty who are distinguished and named professors, winners of the Murphy Award, and members of the Teaching Academy. Faculty who receive the new designation will receive an annual discretionary allocation of $25,000.

Video Coding of Classroom Observations for Research and Instructional Support in an Innovative Learning Environment

Journal Papers
Evenhouse, Austin Zadoks, Claudio Cesar Silva de Freitas, Nimit Patel, Rohit Kandakatla, Nick Stites, Taylor Prebel, Edward Berger, Charles Krousgrill, Jeffrey F. Rhoads, Jennifer DeBoer, “Video Coding of Classroom Observations for Research and Instructional Support in an Innovative Learning Environment”, Australasian Journal of Engineering Education.


“In our context, education is the essential element for transformation”, Jorge Bris

“In our context, education is the essential element for transformation”, Jorge Bris

Freeform, News

“Education will always be a challenging profession, but the good news is that we now have more tools to help us”, says Jorge Bris about the constant changes teachers face today when trying to find better ways to communicate and share information with their students.  Bris is a mechanical engineer and has worked in academia in one way or another since 1996. Teaching has always been his passion, and in the engineering lectures he gives today at the Universidad del Norte (Uninorte), he emphasizes the importance of collaborative learning. With strategies like this, Jorge faces head on the reality of students dropping out of, failing, or needing to retake the engineering course he teaches.

Bris is a graduate of Uninorte himself, where he earned his doctoral degree in materials science at the Uninorte institution in Spain. Now, he teaches Solid Mechanics to mechanical and civil engineering students at the Colombia institution. The idea to look for and adopt a new pedagogical environment happened when he realized two things: first, that the Solid Mechanics course has been one of the places historically high in failure and drop-out rates, and second, that the arrival of the “Ser Pilo Paga”[1] generation has resulted in an increasing number of students registered in these classes. This brought about a tipping point, and Bris had the idea to find a better strategy to address these difficulties and motivate his students to continue participating.

This project arose as part of the teaching model known at Purdue University. “Various faculty in Dynamics classes had the idea to create a new, collaborative pedagogical style, and we wanted to replicate that”, he explains. This innovative learning environment [known as Freeform], has already been implemented among Bris’ students for two years.

Video tutorials are one of the innovative strategies implemented by the faculty. “With the help of the CEDU, we created videos to explain the problems and exercises to the students”, says Bris. “We also use an online platform similar to the one used at Purdue, as well as other interactive games like kahoot!, which enriches the learning environment. With all of this, I hoped to motivate students to participate in class, in addition to providing them with more tools to help them study on their own”, says Professor Bris.

The collaborative component inspires students to split up activities so that they can each develop an understanding of the material, and eventually create their own explanatory videos. “There is no better way to ensure you really understand something other than by having to explain it to someone else” he comments. At the same time, this allows them to grow a repository of videos for new students.

The group activities are also an essential part of the strategy, but they are not conducted in the traditional format.  Bris is in charge of separating the class into groups organized by their averages, abilities, and future career desires.  This helps him create heterogeneous groups comprised of students who complement one another.  He highlights that everything in the implementation phase also serves to validate the methodologies he learned from the faculty at Purdue. “We continue working in conjunction [with Purdue] to find similarities and differences in the Freeform program’s results, while taking into account the different social contexts”, says the professor.

The results of the Freeform environment have been positive, says Professor Bris.  The number of students who withdraw from his class has decreased from 50% to 6% per semester, and the percentage of students needing to retake the course has decreased from 60% to 30%.  “More important than these figures, however, is how the true impact of the Freeform environment is reflected in the students. I’ve always believed in sharing knowledge that is essential in life, and they realize that”, says Bris. Although Professor Bris considers his profession to be one that does not bear rewards until much later in the students’ lives, he is surprised at what he has been able to achieve with his students. “My Freeform students come to me at the end of the semester and thank me for teaching, and are also much more active in the lab.”

In the future, Professor Bris hopes to continue using the Freeform strategy, and would like to see its further implementation in many more classes at Uninorte. He has the idea to design a new category of textbook guide, one with less theory and more space for students to participate.  “The idea of the guide is to allow the students to practice the course themes even more. They will be able to acquire a stronger grasp of the material and be better prepared for exams.”

Jorge Bris has showcased this project at CEDU, as well as his experience in pedagogical innovation and the support he has received to implement it. He confesses that he cannot imagine “using any other teaching strategy.”

By Omar David Alvarez

[1] This is a Federal Government program that aims to help bright low-income students have access to the best Higher Learning Institutions.

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PME paves the way for a new standard of professional preparedness

PME paves the way for a new standard of professional preparedness

MEERCat, News

Based on student, alumni, and employer feedback, the Purdue School of Mechanical Engineering is now offering a unique opportunity for students to hone and develop professional skills. Inspired by and in collaboration with the College of Agriculture certificate program, MEERCat is piloting a Leadership Development Program (LDP) to improve students’ leadership and professional skills and prepare them for the workforce. “We are thrilled to introduce this new opportunity for students in Mechanical Engineering,” says MEERCat Project Coordinator Ruth Rothstein. “We know the LDP focus on leadership and experiential learning will be an excellent complement to the outstanding technical education PME offers.”

As another initiative of MEERCat’s REvolutionizing computer science and Engineering Departments (RED) NSF grant, the LDP is an opportunity for students to improve communication, leadership, and entrepreneurial skills. LDP participants collaborate with a panel of engineering faculty and staff to select the skills they’d like to include in their customized portfolios, and develop hands-on strategies to cultivate them. Rothstein and the MEERCat team hope the LDP will position PME as a front-runner in developing the technical leaders of tomorrow, and will justify expansion into other Schools in the CoE and beyond.

Learn more about this great opportunity at

ME faculty share strategies for student engagement at new lunchtime event

ME faculty share strategies for student engagement at new lunchtime event

MEERCat, News

The Mechanical Engineering Education Research Center at Purdue (MEERCat) is partnering with the Purdue Center for Instructional Excellence to develop and deliver a student-centered teaching and learning, interactive seminar series for faculty members in the School of Mechanical Engineering. This collaboration leverages a growth and development model to promote the use of active learning and evidence-based teaching practices in the classroom, with the aim of producing tangible improvements in overall teaching effectiveness and student engagement.

The Mechanical Engineering Active Learning Series (MEALS) consists of ten, one-hour long lunch seminars organized on the first Tuesday of the month during the 2018-2019 academic year. MEERCat Executive Director Ed Berger shares his hope that MEALS will create an effective community of practice and lay a sound foundation for in-classroom growth and holistic teaching assessments. The free lunch doesn’t sound too bad, either!