Globetrotting with Missouri Engineers

University of Missouri students and their dueling robots.

University of Missouri students and their dueling robots.

For the past three summers, Dr. Robert O’Connell has conducted study abroad programs here in Dublin.  His programs engage engineering students from the University of Missouri.

A fight to the finish.

A fight to the finish.

This year, when Bob asked Dublin Institute of Technology lecturer Gavin Duffy to tour the students around the engineering facilities at DIT, Gavin leapt at the chance to apply Problem-Based Learning (PBL) techniques.

Gavin rallied his colleagues, and our RoboSlam team provided the Missouri students with a three-hour workshop on robot construction.

Since we had limited time to deliver what normally takes a day, Drs. Ted Burke and Damon Berry had pre-programmed the micro-controllers for the students. As a result, the students were able to focus on assembling the components and then streamlining their robots bodies for improved performance.

We culminated the event with a heavy weight Sumo competition.

Drs. Damon Berry and Bob O'Connell chatting after the RoboSlam event.

Drs. Damon Berry and Bob O’Connell chatting after the RoboSlam event.

In this event, the robots compete in a circular  “sumo ring” in pairs. Each robot attempts to locate its opponent and push the other robot out of the sumo ring.

After the paired competition, for additional fun, we placed all the robots in the ring at once, and cheered them on as they valiantly defended their positions in the ring.  In the end, only one robot remained.

Several of the lecturers in DIT’s Electrical Engineering program hold deep affinity for the coordinator of Missouri’s study abroad program, Dr. Bob O’Connell.  Bob was one of DIT’s first Fulbright scholars in Engineering Education (the post I later held).  While he was here as a Fulbright, Bob completed DIT’s Post-Graduate Certificate in Learning and Teaching.  He also helped teach courses and he was part of the faculty learning group that discussed ways to implement hands-on learning in the Electrical Engineering curriculum.

Upon returning home to the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department at the University of Missouri, Bob implemented a number of the Problem-Based Learning techniques he discovered in Dublin.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Bob last year, to learn about his experiences with the faculty learning group.

The fact that so many of DIT’s former Engineering Education Fulbrighters return for ongoing projects provides testimony to the learning community and sense of belonging these Irish scholars have created.  DIT is a very special place, indeed!

Birthday Surprises

Who ordered the rain?

Who ordered this weather?

Wow!  What a day!

It’s my birthday; the 43rd one of my life.  Besides the weather, great things happened!

#1) I awoke to great news: I’d been invited to review a manuscript for a special edition of JEE (a different edition than the one we’ve written for).  I’m hoping this is a good sign.  Apparently the editors though I was sufficiently competent to be part of their rigorous peer-review process.

#2) My aunt Kitty Lee and her friend Patty Asplund arrived fresh off the plane. This is the first day Kitty has ever spent outside North America!!!

Shannon, Kitty Lee, and Patty.

Shannon, Kitty Lee, and Patty.

#3) Mom woke up in the middle of the night (Pennsylvania time) to call and wish me a happy day.

#4) I put Kitty Lee and Patty on the hop-on hop-off bus and headed for sushi with my colleagues. Little did I know they’d planned a birthday lunch. Sima *baked* a gluten-free cake using truffles, chestnut flour, butter, and cream. Amazing!!!!  The sushi was awesome too.

#5) My replacement bank card finally arrived. YAY!!!!

#6) I visited the former House of Parliament (now owned by the Bank of Ireland, a long story that I’ll save for another day).

I got a fabulous tour of the most historic room by Phillip and Jeremy.  I’ll return again to learn more from John and Sean. And Jeremy will copy some information for me to pick up. While I was there, I met a group from Northern Ireland. They’d all been police (some representing loyalists and some representing nationalists — in other words, on both sides). In any case, they’d have been the ones “keeping the peace” while the men I met in the Cobblestone were out in the past *not* “keeping the peace.”

William of Orange

William of Orange

Phillip told me the stories depicted on the tapestries hanging in the hall.  The victor of the story was William of Orange. Three years after the event depicted, King William and his wife (Queen Mary) chartered the College of William and Mary in Virginia. Where I earned my PhD!  Philip said that Mary was much more important in all that than William. I said that’s why we have t-shirts that say, “Mary and William.”

#7) The bus was right there when I stepped out of the Bank, ready to whisk me back to my apartment.

#8) The post had safely delivered birthday cards and a package from each of parents (my Mom, and my Dad and Step-Mom).  It’s wonderful to be remembered.

#9) I got word that our photo show is on!  The title is

Inter-changes: Interpretations of Ireland by Three Virginians
Photographs by US Fulbright Scholar Shannon Chance, Dave Chance & Glen McClure

#10) Kitty and Patty have sweet-talked the hop-on bus driver into delivering them to my doorstep.  I am telling you: Patty is a charmer!!!!  She’s a seasoned traveller — and a former missionary — who has a way of touching people’s souls.  I’m glad she’s here to help Kitty Lee learn the traveling ropes!

We’ll be out for #11 soon!  I’ll let you know how it goes (they are likely to crash soon…).


Gavin and I successfully presented our work today in Limerick at the 2nd annual conference of the All Ireland Architectural Research Group (AIARG). Got up at five to catch the train so we could finalize the presentation.

David Leatherborrow delivered the keynote address on Louis Kahn. It’s a lecture that I missed when he gave it at the National Conference on the Beginning Design Student in 2010. (I had to catch my flight). Some opportunities do come again and get better over time. That was part of his message: beginning again, over and over, approaching the issues slowly and being open to emerging opportunities made Kahn’s design work great.



Revising and Rewriting

Gavin's curious five year old...

Gavin’s curious five year old…

Writing can be such a painful process. A few hours ago, I received critique from my two co-authors.  They recommended an entirely new structure; so I feel as if I’ve got to start over from *zero* with just two weeks until our deadline.

Such is the life of an academic.  The rug always disappears from under you at some point when you’re writing a journal article.  You just never see it coming in the way the way it actually arrives.  When it does, you have to I hang on for dear life — by whatever threads are left — in hopes that someday that paper will be good enough for people to want to read.

The notes I received were a bit cryptic, so I rang up Gavin, using Skype.

The best part of the call was that was I got to meet Gavin’s five-year-old son — yay!  Seeing how curious this little guy was reminded me that I can’t wait to see my five nephews next week!

…It’s just that I’ll just have to squeeze in lots and lots of paper writing in the meantime….

...interested in hearing about our work.

…interested in hearing about our work.

Sushi Christmas

Jack Nealons Pub. (Photo from Jack Nealons website.)

Jack Nealons Pub. (Photo from Jack Nealons website.)

Christmas dinner with my colleagues Gavin and Sima was a blast!  We met at Jack Nealon’s pub and then went for sushi. We talked about all sorts of things–including our research projects. Today, we’re putting forth our work plans for the spring.

Gavin Duffy, Sima Rouholamin, and Shannon Chance.

Gavin Duffy, Sima Rouholamin, and Shannon Chance.

I had such an exciting day yesterday, which I’ll have to wait to tell you about until after get some research accomplished today….


Improving Engineering Students’ Design Skills

ARROW logoThe article Improving Engineering Students’ Design Skills in a Project-Based Learning Course by Addressing Epistemological Issues that Gavin, Brian, and I wrote for the SEFI conference in Greece is available for download on DIT’s ARROW database.  Check it out!

Brushes with Great Museums

Meeting with Brian Bowe and Gavin Duffy at the Beatty Library’s cafe.

The cafe at the Chester Beatty Library serves up a fine selection of Middle Eastern, North African, Mediterranean, and vegetarian entrees and gluten-free desserts.  We met there for lunch Tuesday since it’s halfway between Gavin’s base on Kevin Street and ours on Bolton Street.

Mom and her neighbors (Tim and Mary) spoke highly of this “Silk Road Cafe.”  The Dean had heard its praises sung as well.  Unfortunately, he was called to a more urgent meeting and couldn’t join us after all.

The Beatty Library’s sun-filled, glass-covered courtyard was a lovely setting for our discussion of student-centered learning, research, and publication strategy.

Shockingly, neither of my colleague had ever been to this incredible museum before!  Yet it houses one of the world’s most astounding collections of religious artifacts.  It represents all the world’s major religions and was donated by the American collector Chester Beatty.  And, amazingly, admission is completely free! (Lunch, however, is not.)

Although I didn’t get Gavin and Brian into the actual exhibit halls, at least they got to experience the covered courtyard and the stunning “Castle garden.” It’s surrounded by a high wall and feels very much like a secret garden. During my childhood, I dearly loved the book The Secret Garden.

Castel Garden, behind Dublin Castle. (Photo borrowed from W&L travel log.)

A few hours after our lunch, I had another brush with great museums when Seán Rainbird lectured at the DIT School of Architecture.  He’s the new director of the National Gallery of Ireland. He has also worked at the Tate in London and the Stattsgallerie in Stuttgart (designed by James Stirling’s office).

Seán Rainbird talked about Joseph Beuys’ fascination with all things Celtic when he spoke at the DIT School of Architecture.

Can you imaging that I delivered a lecture in the same “Schools of Thought” lecture series with such an accomplished person?  Wow!

Seán talked about Joseph Beuys and the Celtic World, the topic of a book he wrote.  He said he had just three weeks to write it!  Can you imagine being so knowledgeable about a topic that you could produce a press-worthy document in just three weeks?  Truly amazing.

They say everyone wants to “be like Mike.”  I’d rather “be like Seán” myself!

My Partners in Crime

Sima with work by fourth year Architectural Technology students.

It was a fabulous first day of school!  I’m off to yoga momentarily, but I thought I’d post some pics of my collaborators.  Meet architecture lecturer (i.e., professor) Sima Rouholamin and engineering lecturer Gavin Duffy.

The photo of Sima is from the March 2011, when I visited her studio as a guest critic.

The photo of the students, Gavin and I was taken March 2012.  The students had built robotic cars and were racing against each other at mid-terms during their spring semester.  They were placing for seeds in the end-of-semester competition.  I’ll get to watch the entire competition unfold this time around….

Electrical engineering students with Shannon and Gavin.