Ph.D. (electrical engineering), University of Pittsburgh
M.S. (electrical engineering), State University of New York at Binghamton
B.S. (electrical engineering), Chinese Culture University
My Love of Teaching
I’m the third generation in my family as a teacher. Growing up, I would enjoy watching my father, a high school economics teacher who taught everything from math to political science, inspire his students. And after graduating from college and finishing my military service, I, too, became a teacher, working in a vocational high school.
From the beginning, I’ve really enjoyed sharing knowledge. During graduate school, I helped my adviser work with undergraduate students, which further developed my interest in teaching. I ended up spending a lot of my lunch break time working with undergraduate students on their projects. I enjoyed that even more than doing research alone.
Even when I worked in industry, I taught my colleagues how to analyze something complicated, or sometimes I helped their children with their high school studies.
I had a very unique academic background, with all my degrees in electrical engineering yet my area is actually in bioengineering. Most of my teaching and research are interdisciplinary, applying systems thinking from electrical and computer engineering to bioengineering, robotics, and neuroscience.
It was a surprise when I got a phone call from Lafayette, which saw my experience as an attractive fit for the electrical and computer engineering department. Ever since I started at Lafayette in 2001, I have been enjoying the freedom to teach and develop undergraduate courses, to conduct interdisciplinary research with students, and to connect with students beyond classroom interactions.
My Research Interests
Years ago, my interest was in military defense systems. My adviser at the time asked me to think about why I wanted to do research that would harm people and to consider bioengineering, which applies a similar technology but helps save lives. That was my wake-up call.
Bioengineering was a challenge to me, because I never touched biology after high school. But over time, I realized there are so many things where I can apply my engineering knowledge to solve problems in medicine.
I’m a control engineer, so automation is my thing. I look to apply automated technology to not only help patients, but also to relieve burdens from medical practitioners.
My Ph.D. research was involved with the development of the heart pump later implanted in former Vice President Dick Cheney. Over the years, my work has been advanced by independent study projects and students who have come through my classrooms.
I research how an electrical circuit model can simulate the cardiovascular system, including electrical diodes as heart valves, electrical resistors as fluid resistance in blood vessels, electrical inductors representing fluid inertia, and electrical capacitors representing elasticity of blood vessels and heart chambers. A properly developed computer model of the cardiovascular system can help bioengineers to understand how the cardiovascular system interacts with a blood pump. Studying these interactions observed in measurements can help bioengineers to identify possible patterns in the measurements associated with a patient’s cardiac function. Cardiac function monitoring usually relies on expensive instruments, not feasible for continuous use 24/7. A new cardiac function monitoring algorithm under development using a computer model could potentially address these needs that are safe with no additional cost.
Similar techniques and knowledge are applicable to other health care applications such as brain computer interface development for assistive technology and reading disorder identification for young children.
I truly enjoy that one-on-one kind of conversation with students; it’s more than just doing research. I actually learn from students at Lafayette—their creativity is sometimes beyond my imagination. And the other thing I enjoy over time is to see their progress. Sometimes I have students coming in who lose their confidence. I like helping them to build their confidence, find their direction, and find their interest. I see this as a very positive thing for students and also to the larger community.
Lafayette provides a small, intimate community where faculty and students can work together. That kind of closeness is really valuable. It’s a reward when former students reach out to share what’s happening in their careers and lives. There’s such a human connection here at Lafayette.
Personal Interests/Community Work
I’ve been involved with my students with the robotics team at Easton Area High School. I feel it’s important to have a close interaction with a regional school, to show high school students what engineering is all about and what an engineering education looks like. Lafayette is in a solid position to take the lead on making these connections.