2014

Pushing a physics discovery towards commercial impact, at REU Seminar, Harvard University (Cambridge, MA), Wednesday, July 16, 2014:
In 1997 my research group discovered that shining intense, ultrashort laser pulses on the surface of a crystalline silicon wafer drastically changes the optical, material and electronic properties of the wafer. The resulting textured surface is highly absorbing and looks black to the eye, making this 'black silicon' useful for a wide range of commercial devices, from highly-sensitive detectors to improved photovoltaics. Over the following ten years we investigated this material and developed a prototype detector. The prototype gave us the confidence to commercialize black silicon. Together... Read more about Pushing a physics discovery towards commercial impact
Flat space, deep learning, at GIREP-MPTL International Conference on Teaching/Learning Physics: Integrating Research into Practice, University of Palermo (Palermo, Italy), Tuesday, July 8, 2014:
The teaching of physics to engineering students has remained stagnant for close to a century. In this novel team-based, project-based approach, we break the mold by giving students ownership of their learning. This new course has no standard lectures or exams, yet students’ conceptual gains are significantly greater than those obtained in traditional courses. The course blends six best practices to deliver a learning experience that helps students develop important skills, including communication, estimation, problem solving, and team skills, in addition to a solid conceptual understanding... Read more about Flat space, deep learning
Memorization or understanding: are we teaching the right thing?, at EDULEARN14 (Barcelona, Spain), Monday, July 7, 2014:
Education is more than just transfer of information, yet that is what is mostly done in large introductory courses -- instructors present material (even though this material might be readily available in printed form) and for students the main purpose of lectures is to take down as many notes as they can. Few students have the ability, motivation, and discipline to synthesize all the information delivered to them. Yet synthesis is perhaps the most important -- and most elusive -- aspect of education. I will show how shifting the focus in lectures from delivering information to synthesizing... Read more about Memorization or understanding: are we teaching the right thing?
Engaging Students One-on-One, All At Once Session 2, at Peer Instruction Online Course, Hong Kong Polytecnic University (online) (Hong Kong, China), Wednesday, July 2, 2014:
This short-course introduces participants to the ideas of Peer Instruction (PI) and Just- in-Time-Teaching (JiTT), two research-based methods for engaging students, improving conceptual understanding, increasing retention in courses and programs, and enhancing academic performance. Participants will also learn about a new approach to instructional design. Finally, participants will apply the knowledge gained to a specific course module they are (or will be) teaching, by re-designing (or designing) the syllabus for this course module and developing a plan for implementing PI and JiTT. The... Read more about Engaging Students One-on-One, All At Once Session 2
Femtosecond laser micromachining, at Extreme photonics Summer School: Ultrafast Lasers and Applications, University of Ottawa (Ottawa, ON, Canada), Thursday, June 26, 2014:
When femtosecond laser pulses are focused tightly into a transparent material, the intensity in the focal volume can become high enough to cause nonlinear absorption of laser energy. The absorption, in turn, can lead to permanent structural or chemical changes. Such changes can be used for micromachining bulk transparent materials. Applications include data storage and the writing of waveguides and waveguide splitters in bulk glass, fabrication of micromechanical devices in polymers, and subcellular photodisruption inside single cells.
The Principles and Practice of Physics, at Physics and Astronomy New Faculty Workshop (College Park, MD), Tuesday, June 24, 2014:
The Principles and Practice of Physics is a groundbreaking new calculus-based introductory physics textbook that uses a unique organization and pedagogy to allow students to develop a true conceptual understanding of physics alongside the quantitative skills needed in the course. The book organizes introductory physics around the conservation principles and provides a unified contemporary view of introductory physics. In this talk we will discuss the unique architecture of the book, the conservation-laws-first approach, and results obtained with this book.
Introduction to Peer Instruction, at Physics and Astronomy New Faculty Workshop (College Park, MD), Monday, June 23, 2014:
Education is more than just transfer of information, yet that is what is mostly done in large introductory courses -- instructors present material (even though this material might be readily available in printed form) and for students the main purpose of lectures is to take down as many notes as they can. Few students have the ability, motivation, and discipline to synthesize all the information delivered to them. Yet synthesis is perhaps the most important -- and most elusive -- aspect of education. I will show how shifting the focus in lectures from delivering information to synthesizing... Read more about Introduction to Peer Instruction
Peer Instruction Practical Details, at Physics and Astronomy New Faculty Workshop (College Park, MD), Monday, June 23, 2014:
The basic goals of Peer Instruction are to encourage and make use of student interaction during lectures, while focusing students' attention on underlying concepts and techniques. The method has been assessed in many studies using standardized, diagnostic tests and shown to be considerably more effective than the conventional lecture approach to teaching. Peer Instruction is now used in a wide range of science and math courses at the college and secondary level. In this hour long workshop, participants will learn about Peer Instruction, serve as the "class" in which Peer Instruction is... Read more about Peer Instruction Practical Details

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