Seminar: Effective Teaching of Engineering Courses Using Flipped Classrooms

Tuesday, February 25, 2020 3:00 pm - 5:00 pm EST (GMT -05:00)

Speaker: Prof. Mohamed Bakr

Title: Effective Teaching of Engineering Courses Using Flipped Classrooms

Date: 25 February, 2020

Time: 3pm 

Location: EIT-3142

Invited By: Omar Ramahi

ABSTRACT: The classical approach of teaching an engineering course requires the instructor to spend most of the class time explaining different concepts. There is very little time for interesting discussions or group activities. Students spend their time outside the classroom applying the concepts they learnt using homework problems, lab sessions, assignments, and projects. This approach may not be suitable for our time where students with shorter attention span are more used to learn through videos and podcasts. Students often feel bored in classes with a highly mathematical content leading to lower attendance and poor class engagement.

The flipped classroom approach aims at making a more efficient use of the precious class time. The material is delivered to students before the class session using interesting video modules with a sufficient number of examples. The class time is dedicated to solving more problems, discussing interesting applications, or having group activities. This approach was shown, when applied properly, to offer a better and enjoyable learning experience for students.

I report in this talk on my 18 years-long journey as an instructor in McMaster University. This journey saw my transformation from someone who utilizes classical teaching methods to an instructor who strongly favors teaching using flipped classrooms. This transformation saw my course evaluations rise from below average to always excellent regardless of how mathematical or abstract the course taught is. I will present my teaching approach that combines flipped classrooms and experiential learning. I will address possible approaches to flipping any course. I will also discuss the best practices when applying flipped classrooms to guarantee good results.

Mohamed H. Bakr received a B.Sc. degree in Electronics and Communications Engineering from Cairo University, Egypt in 1992 with distinction (honors). In June 1996, he received a Master's degree in Engineering Mathematics from Cairo University. In 1997, he was a student intern with Optimization Systems Associates (OSA), inc. From 1998 to 2000, he worked as a research assistant with the Simulation Optimization Systems (SOS) research laboratory, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. He earned the Ph.D. degree in September 2000 from the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, McMaster University. In November 2000, he joined the Computational Electromagnetics Research Laboratory (CERL), University of Victoria, Victoria, Canada as an NSERC Post Doctoral Fellow. Dr. Bakr received a Premier’s Research Excellence Award (PREA) from the province of Ontario, Canada, in 2003. He also received an NSERC Discovery Accelerator Supplement (DAS) award in 2011. In 2014, he was a co-recipient of Chrysler’s innovation award for a project on novel designs of hybrid cars. Since 2015, he was listed on the Dean’s Teaching Honour Roll several times in recognition of his success in utilizing flipped classrooms in teaching engineering courses. He was awarded in April 2018 a Leadership in Teaching and Learning (LTL) fellowship from the McPherson Institute, McMaster University. In January 2020, he was a recipient of a Faculty Appreciation Award from the McMaster Engineering Society (MES) in recognition of his contributions to undergraduate teaching in McMaster. His research areas of interest include optimization methods, computational electromagnetics, computer-aided design and modeling of power circuits and motors, microwave circuits, THz, and photonic devices, nanotechnology, and artificial intelligence applications. He is currently working as professor with the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, McMaster University. He is the author/coauthor of over 270 journal and conference papers, two experiential books on the optimization and CAD of high frequency structures, two book chapters on optimization and electromagnetic modeling, and two patents.