February 02, 2004

Seven faculty members win summer fellowships

by K.C. Jaehnig

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Seven Southern Illinois University Carbondale faculty members have won summer fellowships from the University this year.

Om P. Agrawal, professor of mechanical engineering and energy processes, Sean M. Boyle, associate professor of automotive technology, J. Tobin Grant, assistant professor of political science, Farzad Pourboghrat, professor of electrical and computer engineering, Tomas Velasco, associate professor of technology,Ramanarayanan Viswanathan, professor of electrical and computer engineering, and Ronald W. Wagner, assistant professor of physical education, each will receive two months' salary to developing new undergraduate teaching aids.

SIUC's summer teaching fellowships are administered by the associate provost for personnel and student policy and exemplify the University's twin aspirations of supporting and fostering faculty excellence and shaping high-quality undergraduate programs, as outlined in the Southern at 150 initiative, a long-range plan that focuses on the University's growth.

The seven grants represent "a major step up" from the last several years when SIUC typically offered only a few fellowships, Interim Associate Provost Robert A. Jensen said.

"It's a solid commitment on the part of the chancellor in fulfilling Southern at 150 goals," he said. "Further, we have every reason to hope that we will have as many as eight next year."

Jensen described the fellowship proposals as "outstanding," noting that in at least one case -- Boyle's plan for improving the teaching of complex automotive repair functions -- "no other university is doing anything quite like it."

Here's a closer look at the fellowship winners and their projects.


  • Agrawal will develop software tools, computer-based simulations and handouts to help students learn, at their own pace, the theories, concepts and analytical schemes basic to the field of dynamics. A faculty member since 1985, he has a bachelor's degree from Birla Institute of Technology in India (1978), a master's from the Indian Institute of Science (1980) and a doctorate from the University of Illinois-Chicago (1984).


  • Boyle will build drive train-related simulators that can demonstrate complicated technical concepts in an easy-to-grasp fashion, improving students' understanding of how the basic components operate and sharpening their diagnostic skills. A faculty member since 1997, he is a two-degree graduate of SIUC, earning a bachelor's degree in 1994 and a master's degree in 1996.


  • Grant will create for a course on American politics and government a community-service component and an associated, Web-based course management system as a way of training students to become active citizens while learning to think about complex political issues. A faculty member since 2001, he has a bachelor's degree from Wheaton College (1996) and master's and doctoral degrees from The Ohio State University (2001).


  • Pourboghrat and Viswanathan will collaborate on a project aimed at helping students learn to use mathematical tools, such as calculus, linear algebra and statistics, in solving electrical engineering problems.

    A faculty member since 1984, Pourboghrat has a bachelor's degree from Aryamehr University of Technology (1976) in Iran, master's degrees from Syracuse University (1978) and the University of Iowa (1983) and a doctorate from the University of Iowa (1984).

    Visnwanathan, who joined the University in 1983, has a bachelor's degree from the University of Madras (1975) in India, a master's degree from the India Institute of Science (1977)and a doctorate from Southern Methodist University in Dallas (1983).


  • Velasco will teach students how to use "Six Sigma," a popular, quality assurance tool that employs statistical analysis of performance defects as a means for locating and solving problems. A faculty member since 1993, he has bachelor's and master's degrees from Pontificia Universidad Javeriana in Colombia (1984), a master's in manufacturing and a master's in business administration (1985 and 1987) from Pittsburg State University in Kansas and a doctorate from the University of Arkansas (1991).


  • Wagner will revamp the athletic trainers' program so that students can learn such skills as taking medical histories, conducting physical exams and communicating with patients by practicing on make-believe patients. Wagner, who joined the faculty last year, has a bachelor's degree from Southeast Missouri State (1998), a master's from Eastern Kentucky University (1999) and a doctorate from the University of Arkansas (2003).