Getting Hands Dirty!

Remember those days in kindergarten when we were asked to make models out of clay and we would just get to it not worrying of how beautiful our clay model would like? As years went by, the approach of getting hands dirty somehow shifted to a more “sit and observe/analyse” situations. While this could be a good method for understanding a situation, not all courses would succeed by just spectating the progress of the course.

One of the courses that I took here at Virginia Tech that actually gave me a good understanding of the subject through case based learning was in the ME department on Vibrations. The project was to design a wearable device to help patients suffering form Parkinson’s disease. This was relative new to me so I had to read a lot about this. Turns out, not much research has been done here based on a wearable mechanical device concerning vibrations. So this was a perfect opportunity, where I put in use the most fundamental learning of mathematical modelling, where we came up with equations to understand how the human arm behaves and then after a good amount of research we were able to come up with an approach as to how to go about the problem. Then it was all coding and seeing how the design behaved and if it actually helped combat the problem or not.

One realization through hands-on learning was that, the subject although seemingly monotonous and dense theory in the beginning was now much more interesting since I was able to see the practical use of the course materials. This was when I realised how the most fundamental materials could be put into good practice!

Category(s): GRAD5114

2 Responses to Getting Hands Dirty!

  1. Your comment about childhood it is so true! When case based learning experience has to do with a new or not so popular research theme, I think it is easier to be motivated and to put more effort on that. When I was pursuing my master in International Marketing, I had a professor who had never changed the cases that students had to work with as assignments. The result was all of us to be extremely bored during his lectures as we could find all the solutions to the internet.

  2. Thanks for your post. I am from the Agricultural Economics department and most of our core classes are heavy in theory. Among those classes, those that I found to be the most useful were the ones where we also had to get our hands dirty. So I echo what you said at the end of your post.

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