Monday, 28 July 2014

Research Related Teaching and Learning



Research Related Teaching and Learning
Dr. Paul Hoole
It has been well said that the best way to impart the importance of and interest of learning business, mathematical, scientific, political, technical knowledge is to show the emotional, social and immediate aspect or need for the subjects being taught and learned. The best way to impart this to the students is to relate class room and laboratory classes to current research interests and progress. Some outstanding teachers and researchers go to the extent of rooting their entire class room instruction on their research and innovation work.  I have given below my own research related publications with others from June 2013 to May 2014 which I often refer to in my lectures (I remain thankful to Prof. Pumwa for initiating me into Renewable Energy research by sending me off to attend a World Bank meeting on it in the capital; hence over the past year I have been getting deeply into this, a relatively new area for me, with a graduate student working on it). For an illustration see the pictures I have commenced uploading in my facebook Paul Hoole for my current (Semester 2, 2014) lectures to first year and second year students. Moreover research helps the students to take the lessons beyond the class room and relate it to challenging, contemporary and sometimes critical problems in the world and to do problem solving using what they have learnt in the classes. Research and Innovation use of class room lessons sharpens and focuses and creates interest and enthusiasm for the subject.
In formulating research and in training students to write research papers, it is important to teach them to focus on the question of “HOW” rather than “WHY”. (This is something I picked up from my niece who found this helpful guide from her former Thesis Advisor at the University of Pennsylvania, USA.) Consider the following research issues, and see how posing of the problem question in “:HOW” terms makes it loads easier to address, write and talk on it rather than poising it as a “WHY question.
Problem 1.
Why is it that a country so rich with natural resources and wealthy people, still have 40% of the population living under poverty line?
How is it that a country so rich with natural resources and wealthy people, still have 40% of the population living under poverty line?
Problem 2
Why is it that an airplane flying at high altitude (e.g. 10000 m, or 10 km) become a victim to a heat sinking missile launched from the earth?
How is it that an airplane flying at a high altitude of about 10 km be shot down by a heat sinking missile launched from ground?
Problem 3
Why is it that mobile communication system signal reception begin to significantly deteriorate when its speed increases?
How is it that mobile communication system signal reception begins to significantly deteriorate when its speed increases?
Problem 4
Why is it that children affected by autism show significant changes in EEG signals in the Beta (15 to 35 Hz) Band?
How is it that children affected by autism show significant changes in EEG signals in the Beta (15 to 35 Hz) Band?
Problem 5
Why is that a University where there are students with good, world class brains and a country whose economy is superior to many other countries still produce inferior graduates after 4 years in the University and/or the University still be low down in world University ranking?
How is that a University where there are students with good, world class brains and a country whose economy is superior to many other countries still produce inferior graduates after 4 years in the University and/or the University still be low down in world University ranking?
Prof Hoole, July 2014
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June 2013-May 2014 Update: Publications (published, in print, under review) by Dr Paul Hoole,
A.     Communication Engineering
1.       Shore to ship Steerable Electromagnetic Beam System based Ship Communication and Navigation, ACES Journal (ISI-cited), 2013 (USA)

2.      Strengthening the Desired Signal and Nulling the Main Interference for a Light Weight Wireless Mobile Station, ISI-cited Journal paper under review, 2014 (USA)
 B.     Power Engineering
1.       A New Electric Dipole Model for Lightning-Aircraft Electrodynamics, COMPEL: The International Journal for Computation and Mathematics in Electrical and Electronic Engineering (COMPEL, ISI-cited), 2014.(UK)

2.       Aircraft Modelling: from Electrostatics to Circuits, PIERS Journal, 2013 (USA)
3.       Renewable Energy Resource Mapping in Morobe Province, Papua New Guinea: solar and wind power, Grand Renewable Energy Conference, 2014, (Japan). 2 page Abstract accepted. Full Journal paper under preparation.

4.       Papua New Guinea National Energy Roll Out Plan (NEROP) and Power Quality of the Distribution System, Grand Renewable Energy Conference, 2014. (Japan.). 2 page Abstract accepted. Full Journal paper under preparation.

C.     Computer Engineering
5.       Parallelization on Graphical Processing Units (GPU) Realizing High Speed Up without Memory Limits, Abstract, Int Conf on Pure and Applied Mathematics, University of Technology, 2013 (PNG)
6.       A Software Testbed for Electrodynamics ISI-cited Journal paper under review, 2014 (Japan)

D.     Engineering Education
7.       Flip-Teaching Engineering Optimization, Electromagnetic Product Design, and Nondestructive Evaluation in a Semester’s Course, Journal. of Computer Applications in Engineering, John Wiley, accepted and  in print, 2014 (USA).
 E.     Book
8.       Engineering Electromagnetics Handbook, WIT Press, 2013 (UK).


University Issues on Upgrading Standards and Nationalization




University Issues on Upgrading Standards and Nationalization
Dr Paul Hoole

June/July 2014

The following are requests which I think are important at this stage, where problems of some seriousness may exist and needs rectification for us to achieve our vision (even the very best of us may, and do, fail at times);

(a)    Each department to have a small staff-student group (e.g. 4 students from each year, and an expat and a national member of staff) to meet regularly in a courteous and honest environment, e.g. twice a semester, to address any teething issues that can be timely dealt with to improve department's teaching and learning, etc.
(b)   Issues of good staff recruitment and retention be regularly, transparently and honestly done and where needful academic-administration process and relationship be made attractive and good. Where a member of staff is resigning enable a small committee (say 2 or 3 senior members of staff, neutral) to find out the reasons and address them through proper channels. Appoint a senior member of staff, trusted and accomplished, as Academic Counselor (in addition whoever the Administration department may have) to whom members of staff may confidentially seek counsel and help. Where disciplinary action is being taken against someone, or the contract is not being renewed, allow for that person to appeal for a neutral committee to make an impartial enquiry. Empower committees; most don’t like sitting on committees because they are either loaded, ineffective for the mission or powerless, just a white elephant. 
(c)    Accreditation process is going to take some time – some may gradually losing confidence, momentum in and direction if in contradictory messages and a non-uniting, non-dynamic lead is given -  and  may be 4 years, with possibly ly year 1 in 2015 doing the new revises course year 1 and then going up step by step 2,3 and 4. In the meantime do the others currently in year1,2,3 and 4 loose  out with a fairly outdated and badly designed course? But any revision and pushing for some immediate changes take a long process, from dept to syllabus committees, etc etc. Can some accelerated, risk taking  process be allowed for changes of  present year 4 in semester 2 as well as for others in 1,2, and 3? Most departments in eng probably recognize the need but are put off by the tedious process? This will of course will require more disciplined and morally accountable commitment. Students are probably now doing far, far more credits than that required for a 4 year degree- just over burdening the students trying to produce parrots than Univ graduates. 
(d)   Instead of overloading the HOD, each department to have a staff recruitment committee of expats and nationals to promote the dept and look at all applications that come in (I understand that recruitment at present is largely in the hands staff committee and HOD; good to get the dept fired up and involved.
(e)     That depts. especially the Eng depts. which attract young graduates to join the dept be given some privileges and incentives to develop the young recruits- again (b) above will help in this. At present with aging equipment and again national/expat staff we are becoming a museum. The technical officers in laboratories be trained and expected to be dynamic and professional, proud to their laboratories; provide incentives to those who do Trained and responsible laboratory technicians who can preserve, maintain and use well the expensive equipment, appliances and facilities and manuals and lab sheets. From the five PhD projects that I have been able to initiate, three have made very good progress and I have seen immense capability and ability to grasp, focus and made headway despite heavy work pressures (so much that 4 conference papers went out in 8 months). We have the capability.
(f)    (d) While expats are brought in for a short term, to accelerate the PhD training of national members of staff - in some Univs radical steps are taken where the govt borrows money say from World Bank, to give national members of staff paid, compulsory leave for 3 years to complete their PhDs, with some money for getting research equipment they may use in the dept. and for travel to some overseas attachment/conferences. Often a maximum period is set for those not sent n compulsory paid leave- say 7 years for PhD from bachelor's degree, if already with Master's then say 5 years maximum. This would motivate all both expats (who may also be set with a maximum term, unless some special contribution after that term is needed)) and nationals to take national training very seriously.
(g)   The Research Committee be somewhat decentralized too with each dept able to push forward its own plans (e.g. I had put out the plans for ECE in Nov 2013, it is just collecting dust) with some of research committee finances being divided up too; each dept committee to report to central committee once a year so. Each year each dept may submit its requirements, to a central research committee which is best represented by all departments and in a balanced, non-prejudiced manner. Spent so much time and energy in doing the precisely tuned Research Plan document (November 2013) - I put it in the Blogspot for use by other Universities. Provide incentives and tangible support for those that are making good progress, especially in disciplines which are highly competitive, fast changing and cutting edge discipline.
(h)   Transparency in all matters that intimately affect members of staff and students is crucial. For instance honest use of University money is wonderful with no bribes and stealing. But there also need to be checks that the money is used for right purposes, awarded for projects, use or further training from nationals strictly on the basis of meritocracy and genuine gain for the University community and mission. Moreover when questions are asked not to adapt bad, common practice of not replying, unduly delaying or bullying and punishing, or even answering as if the other person is stupid or bad (even if that person so, to answer clearly and with respect). 
   (i) Set up self-checking units on all power holding centers (even though where intentions are good and beginnings are excellent; which one of is so good that we do not need safeguards?) to preserve integrity, transparency consultative work and fair play  Signs of decay appear, and it is easy to slip into cliques ("Some are more equal than others" as in the book Animal Farm). Once this begins to happen those who can best contribute to the University fade into background, do not speak out or contribute their best, leave or are conveniently terminated. This would be disastrous to the institute, and in the long term, years down the line, produces a backlash harming everybody when deterioration has become intolerable and recovery is going to take double the time.
    Prof. Hoole, Electrical and Communication Engineering Department.
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(prof.hoole@gmail.com)
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