Rube Goldberg’s real lesson


My recent column from the October issue of PRiSM, the magazine of the American Society for Engineering Education.  Trained as an engineer at Berkeley at the dawn of the 20th century, Rube Goldberg had exactly the kind of prolific, influential, and wide-ranging career we need from 21st-century engineers. Yes, he worked as an engineer and inventor, but he also was an artist, author, cartoonist, and Read More →

Clemson’s new Sustainability minor

Here is some information about Clemson’s new Sustainability minor. The University’s sustainability website is getting a facelift, and we’ll move this information over there when that procedure is done. Catalog description1  A minor in Sustainability requires 18 credits, distributed as follows: 3 credits of CU 2010, Sustainability Leadership2. 12 credits of courses focused on sustainability issues from the following list3: AP EC 4570*, ARCH 3700*, Read More →

What is engineering to you? by Jackie Blizzard


Pasted below is a recent article from 2013 ESSo graduate Dr. Jackie Blizzard. Jackie is now a computer science teaching fellow for Google. Check out the original article and what Jackie’s group is up to here. What is engineering to you? by Jackie Blizzard We’ve heard it before: women are seriously underrepresented in the field of engineering. Only 11% of practicing engineers are females. Only 20% Read More →

Teaching wisdom from Central Station Cafe’

Central station cafe

Bob “PB” Nowack taught engineering at Clemson for 62 years. This article, Teaching wisdom from Central Station Cafe’, shares a little bit of what I have learned from him. If you teach, have been taught by PB, or like all-you-can eat buffets, I think you’ll enjoy it.

Elegant intersections

elegant intersections

This intersection is simple, but not functional.   This intersection is functional, but not simple.   This intersection is functional and simple, and much more elegant than the other two.1 For more information on why it works, google “traffic calming,” “Hans Monderman,” or “shared space.” [↩]

The end of my “office”

My office circa 2013 - pretty traditional

Our department is raising money for a new, or upgraded building. There’s no question we can improve on what we have. Lowry Hall was originally constructed in the mid 1900’s at a time when the trend was to bolt desks and chairs to the floor and, judging from the size of these desks, when most college students were about 5’ tall.  The windows are drafty Read More →

Reference letters are a waste of time

reference letters

Like all faculty members, I’ve written lots of reference letters. I’ve written letters for great students and for those with lots of ‘potential.’ I’ve written letters to public and private employers; to scholarship, fellowship, and awards committees; to graduate and summer research programs. You get the idea. I also review applications for our graduate program and write letters for undergraduates, which means I’ve even written Read More →

Sustainable engineering Ph.D. advisors

Ph.D. graduation

I’m biased to think Ph.D. students get a great experience working with me and the ESSo group, but if you’re considering our group, you should also look at these other programs. Developing this list, I took my own advice on how to pursue an engineering Ph.D, especially the part where I said Ph.D. success is largely determined by relationships with your advisor(s) and other students. So, my Read More →

You can get paid to earn your Ph.D. in engineering

Me pretending to give advice

Thousands of people have asked me how they should go about finding an engineering graduate program where they can earn their Ph.D. OK, definitely not thousands of people (or even hundreds), but enough super-talented people to justify my writing this post. Plus this is a topic where my recommendations are actually grounded in experience. I was choosing a Ph.D. program less than a decade ago. Now Read More →

Energy and climate (reading list)


Here is my list of books about energy and climate that I think everyone should read.  A summary of the main points: Climate change is a big deal for humans; climate change is related to all of our other societal challenges; energy production and consumption are the biggest contributors to climate change; meeting our climate/energy obligations won’t destroy our economy (failing to do anything will); Read More →