Teamwork facilitation in engineering classes, where students must collaboratively develop a solution to complex, open-ended problems, is uniquely challenging. The role of the instructor extends from supporting students in the development of necessary technical knowledge and skills to helping teams figure out their collaborative workflow processes. Dr. Nies talks to us about his extensive teaching experience facilitating teamwork in large engineering classes – in person and online, provides reflections about the value of social bonding and trust building among team members, as well as practical advice on team formation, conflict resolution and student engagement in the learning process.
Dr. Larry Nies is a professor at Purdue university with appointments in Civil Engineering and Environmental and Ecological Engineering. He has been teaching Sustainable Engineering courses at Purdue since founding them in 2002. He is a licensed Professional Engineer with research interests spanning across macro-scale human systems down to nano-scale molecular processes. More recently, he has been researching how to transform industrial and urban systems toward a sustainable trajectory, primarily through water and carbon footprint assessment.
Dr. Nies has been recognized numerous times for his outstanding achievements in engineering teaching and counseling by various groups including Purdue University, the Society of Environmental and Ecological Engineering (SEEE), and the American Academy of Environmental Engineers and Scientists. Today our discussion is focused on his long running work to support engineering project teams in undergraduate classrooms.