Teaching-oriented Events

The extent of advanced teaching by SMD and visiting faculty members may be assessed from the related printed documents listed in Appendix 4. While these lecture sets were mainly addressed to graduate audiences, SMD was equally interested in enhancing the overall quality of undergraduate teaching of solid mechanics at UW, consistent with its basic mandate. In this regard, during the 1969 summer semester SMD organized a weekly seminar cycle designed to stimulate undergraduate teaching excellence so that it would match our high graduate programs standards. Some of the problems and dilemmas identified but unsolved were mainly consequences of the distinctive features of UW’s engineering education, particularly the cooperative work-study program and the related academic calendar. Also of concern were the handling of the general knowledge explosion, new directions of study, and their accommodation within the curricula of standard four-year study programs. A fresh outlook on the design of undergraduate teaching seemed unavoidable if the following topics were to be properly addressed:

• Role of solid mechanics in CE and ME curricula;

• Nature of SM teaching output (engineers or engineering scientists );

• Optimal teaching techniques (lecturing, problem solving, laboratory work, projects, TV sessions, etc.);

• Optimal mix of various areas of study (mathematics, physics, computer techniques, theoretical and applied mechanics, etc.)

• Objective teaching evaluation (“delivery” or “retention” models ).

Specific questions pertaining to objectives, major topics, minimal ingredients, significance and optimal instructional media for each individual course were explored. Some of the major flaws identified in solid mechanics courses were: coverage of basic statics, insufficient laboratory work, poor understanding of physical problems and role of modelling, inefficient tutorials and insufficient engineering project work. Furthermore, it was strongly felt that lack of coordination of CE and ME offerings was manifest in unnecessary repetitions, omissions or redundancy, along with unsuitable textbooks and inadequate lecture-tutorial coordination.

A comprehensive discussion of the above problems took place in the framework of 12 weekly seminars during the 1969 summer term. Each seminar was devoted to one course presentation and full debate by faculty members and students with a view to:

• Establishing quality standards for the teaching process;

• Developing lecture notes, laboratory manuals, problem sets and other teaching aids tailored to the specific needs of UW students and their cooperative programs;

• Developing and completing within a few years an integrated set of SM Textbooks that encapsulated UW needs and standards, to be known as the SM Text Series.

The 1969 summer term SM Teaching Seminars were well prepared, attended and debated and generated productive discussion by the participants. Regrettably, the perseverance and long-term motivation required for bringing this major project to fruition were lost with time and the concept of a complete, modern SM Text Series, unified in format and educational perspective, failed to materialize. However, a lonely sample of the potential of this ambitious project saw the light of day in 1972 (Cohn 1972), and remains a prototype of what might have been the outcome of staying on course with our initial vision. (The partial jacket cover for the sole publication in the SM Text Series is shown in Figure 11).

Teaching-oriented Events

Figure 11. SM Text No. G1