David Andersen

Recipient of the College of Engineering 2018 Faculty Excellence Award for Teaching

Professor Andersen joined the College of Engineering faculty in 1986.  DEO Erwei Bai describes him as “a dedicated and gifted instructor,” one who “excels at every aspect of teaching, from classroom to student advising, and from student support to student career preparation.”  

Professor Andersen’s teaching philosophy is based on 3 elements: 1) personal responsibility and respect, 2) the role that engineers are expected to play in modern society, and 3) understanding the capabilities and relative maturity levels of engineering students at various points in their academic careers.  As a result, he approaches different classes with different teaching styles, each designed to bring out the best in students of varying ability levels.

Professor Andersen rose to the challenge of overhauling ECE’s senior design courses four years ago after the last ABET review.  He developed three 5-week lab experiments for the fall semester, progressing from relatively easy to highly sophisticated, to teach students critical thinking as well as technical skills.  In the spring semester, Professor Andersen implemented a requirement that all projects have an external customer, with those customers coming from industry, faculty research groups, or community leadership.  This approach provided real world requirements for each project, and increased the scope and quality of the projects.  Each project group also had to document all aspects of the design process using a template developed by Professor Andersen. In addition, Professor Andersen worked with Rockwell International to provide funding to support projects where the customer was unable to provide funds.  Out of 25 design projects per year, approximately 5 groups utilize this funding.  The groups write a funding proposal which is evaluated to a faculty panel and awards average $500 per group. Finally, Professor Andersen has integrated the senior design projects into the annual “Modern Marvels” show presented each spring, which attracts local industry representatives, high school students, as well as faculty and students from the College of Engineering.

Professor Reddy describes Professor Andersen as the “go to faculty member for every DEO of ECE, whenever there is a need to cover teaching of any required course.”  He has also been proactive in developing new courses and new materials for existing courses.  For example, he saw the need for ECE students to acquire the ability to integrate computing devices such as micro-controllers and microprocessors into systems with sensors and actuators, and he developed an elective course on embedded systems which later became a required course for both Computer and Electrical track students and now in the new Computer Science and Engineering program.

And finally, a few comments from his students:

“As a student new to engineering and circuits I attended many of the office hours …and was always struck by how clear the concepts were after even a five minute discussion with him.  …his clarity of thought became my new standard of technical expression.”

“He seems to have an innate ability to explain what would normally be very dense material in such a way that his lectures are interesting and the concepts are presented in a manner conducive to learning.”

“Professor Andersen did a fantastic job of connecting with all of his students regardless of their level of knowledge and background.  He always focused on the ‘big picture’ rather than dry facts from textbooks, and encouraged interdisciplinary thinking and collaboration.”