19 June 2018: Seminar by Smitesh Bakrania, Rowan University, "Engineering my teaching"

STEMTEC Seminar Series, 2018

Where: WT121 Note different room

When: Tuesday 19 June 2018, 12-1pm


Engineering my teaching

Dr Smitesh Bakrania

The Engineering Design Process is a systematic approach to problem solving. When addressing a need, an engineer follows a series of steps to arrive at a solution. We may not follow each step in order, and may even iterate using the Engineering Design Process until we have a satisfactory outcome. As an engineering educator within the mechanical engineering field, I have applied the same design process to address various challenges that I faced during my teaching career. The steps are: define the problem; conduct background research; brainstorm ideas; develop a solution; build a prototype; test the prototype; and finally evaluate. Following this problem solving mindset, I have produced a number of mobile and web applications to address teaching challenges. I have even ventured into video production to extend my teaching beyond the classroom. Even though my solutions are technological, they apply broadly to non-engineering fields. In other words, my solutions can be easily adopted to fields outside engineering to augment teaching effectiveness. After this talk, I anticipate you will go back to your classrooms with a number of tools and ideas to address your own challenges or at least use the Design Process to engineer your own teaching.

This talk, will cover:

  1. Mobile apps developed to assist teaching and an evaluation of their impact.
  2. Web tools developed for course assessments, feedback, and management.
  3. A project designed to encourage students from K-12 to consider STEM fields by deliveringscience and engineering activities to teachers
  4. Other tools to extend your teaching beyond the classroom.

Most importantly, while I have tried to disseminate these tools via videos, research papers, and talks to benefit other teachers facing similar challenges, I hope this conversation will encourage new ideas and produce an engaging experience.


Smitesh Bakrania is a Fulbright Scholar visiting Auckland University of Technology (AUT) as part of his award. For his permanent position, he is an Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Rowan University in New Jersey, United States of America, since September 2008. Before the current position, he completed his M.S. and Ph.D. working on combustion synthesis of nanocomposites at University of Michigan-Ann Arbor; and undergraduate degree at Union College in Schenectady, New York. At Rowan University he continues to research a microcombustion-based portable power source using nanoparticles, while teaching Thermal-Fluid Sciences, Combustion, and Nanotechnology courses. Smitesh has been involved in developing several hands-on engineering design activities to anchor learning. Soon after beginning his teaching career at Rowan University, Smitesh was inspired by opening up of the iPhone’s iOS to outside developers. He rapidly developed a prototype app called Pikme app to randomly select students; and quickly realized the impact of the app on student engagement. Now, Pikme has been downloaded over 70,000 times by teachers and he has subsequently produced multiple apps centered around teaching, produced videos to help instruction, evaluated the impact of various tools, and presented his work at the American Society of Engineering Education (ASEE) and Frontiers in Education (FIE) national and international conferences.


Robin Hankin is a mathematician specializing in computational statistics. His first degree was in pure and applied mathematics from Trinity College, Cambridge. After working in the UK's Health and Safety Executive, Robin returned to Cambridge for a PhD in theoretical fluid mechanics, specializing in stratified atmospheric diffusion. He then worked at The University of Auckland as a lecturer in environmental science, and after returning to Cambridge to study global climate change as a senior research associate, is now a senior lecturer at AUT working in computational statistics. He has spent the last five years studying for a Master’s Degree in Education.

For queries on the seminar series, contact Robin Hankin, rhankin@aut.ac.nz