Featuring 2017 Outstanding Engagement Award recipient Chenn Zhou
Professor of Mechanical Engineering Chenn Qian Zhou serves as Founding Director of PNW’s Center for Innovation through Visualization and Simulation and the Steel Manufacturing Simulation and Visualization Consortium. Dr. Zhou is among three PNW Outstanding Faculty Award recipients announced during Founders Day festivities, March 6. In a Q&A profile, Dr. Zhou shares her thoughts about faculty engagement.
Q: What do you consider some of your most significant engagement activities?
CZ: Most recently, I led efforts to establish a nationwide Steel Manufacturing Simulation and Visualization Consortium (SMSVC). Through this consortium, more opportunities have emerged for our university to work with steel producers and suppliers to contribute to the long-term sustainability of the American steel industry.
A second major engagement project is the English Training in Engineering (ETIE) program that brings international students to Purdue Northwest. These students contribute to our region by effectively working with local industry. This program also helps attract talented students to our graduate program and contributes to the global engineering education required by ABET accreditation.
I have been involved with the Association of Iron and Steel Technology for many years and have served as an AIST Foundation Trustee since 2011. I also have been very active in the American Society of Mechanical Engineering (ASME).
At PNW, I have served as an advisor to the student chapter of the Society of Women Engineers, and I have worked with the Office of Research to help integrate research activities of the Hammond and Westville campuses.
Q: How does engagement enhance you as a higher educator?
CZ: Active engagement with industries and local communities provide students many experiential learning opportunities. This is especially critical to engineering students. In engineering, students must learn both theories and practical problem-solving skills. By working on real world industrial projects, our students become well-prepared and critically needed to our workforce. My engagement efforts also provide many opportunities to inspire K-12 students about STEM education.
Q: How do you blend engagement with teaching and scholarly activities?
CZ: I integrate my engagement with teaching and scholarly activities through real-world problem-solving. My research is focused on combining computational fluid dynamics and visualization to create computational models of industrial processes that can be used for understanding complex phenomena, troubleshooting failures, optimizing designs and operations, and scaling-up new concepts.
Through engagement with our industrial partners, I am able to incorporate real world examples of what our partners have experienced into my teaching through lectures and students’ projects. As a result, our students are able to work on project teams to solve these problems and often are included as co-authors of resulting research papers.
Q: Which of your engagement activities do you especially cherish? Why?
CZ: I cherish my partnerships with our faculty and staff as well as people from more than 110 organizations, including industries, community, schools and universities, and national labs. These partnerships and the innovative solutions they have enabled have produced significantly positive economic and educational impact both locally and globally.
I also enjoy my interaction with students through the Center for Innovation through Visualization and Simulation (CIVS), the English Training in Engineering (ETIP) program and student organizations. I take great satisfaction in being part of the process of turning students into well-rounded and highly skilled professionals. I am very proud that many of my students have received local and global research awards and find excellent jobs. It is heart-warming to see them grow personally and professionally.
Q: How do your engagement activities benefit Purdue Northwest and your students?
CZ: Purdue Northwest benefits in many ways from these engagement activities.
- They provide many of our students experiential learning opportunities that lead to jobs.
- They also provide cutting edge research tools to our faculty who work with CIVS.
- They bring many of the corporate and government leaders of Northwest Indiana and beyond to our campuses.
- They help establish the university’s reputation as a contributing force to regional and national economic development.
- They help attract talent to our university; and
- They bring significant grant and contract funding to the university that supports PNW’s research agenda.