Faculty perspective: Mark French

Mark French, Ph.D., is an associate professor in the School of Engineering Technology. He is one of two recipients of the 2014 Dwyer Award for Undergraduate Teaching in the College of Technology. The students in the College of Technology select the award winners. He posts explanations of engineering principles on his YouTube channel, too.


My teaching style

I try to teach in less formal way. I believe that the use of hands-on projects alongside homework is beneficial. For example, in my Dynamics class, I have the students make catapults, which we tested at the end of the semester. My students enjoy this because they can have an open-ended design project in addition to the more concrete material we go over in class. So I try to give them a more hands-on experience as opposed to talking at them. These students are paying an awful lot of money to be here, so I try to give them the best I can.

My teaching philosophy

I believe I need to respect the needs of the students and their different learning styles. I attended college to study engineering, and I was taught in a very abstract way. At the time, I didn’t know there was any other way to learn. Now that I do, I have used my experiences to shape the way I teach.

Rules for engaging students

  • Rule #1: No PowerPoint presentations. I do a lot of examples in class. This helps them visualize and better understand the material.
  • Rule #2: I try to make my classes a conversation between the students and me. I don’t want to just stand there and profess at them; I want them to be involved.

What sets Technology apart

At the undergraduate level, we are preparing our students for industrial careers. We don’t prepare students to go into academia. Our teaching is much more hands-on than most other schools/colleges at Purdue.

What news students can expect from a Technology class

They can expect a very dedicated faculty, people who are going to work hard to help them succeed. All of the faculty members have had extensive industry experience before coming to Purdue.

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