Teaching

Teaching Philosophy:   Jim’s goals in teaching are to challenge students to apply the principles of engineering to real-world problems in an interdisciplinary context, and ultimately help them discover their passions.  In the spirit of the teacher-scholar model, teaching at Merrimack is an extremely high priority, and Jim has the opportunity to mentor students from a diverse spectrum of backgrounds.  He promotes a challenging, engaging, and comprehensive approach to undergraduate education in which he not only serves as a course instructor, but also as a laboratory instructor and grader at all levels.  Jim's pedagogical strategies are to encourage higher-order thinking, establish context through real-world examples, promote student-student and student-faculty interactions, and make learning enjoyable and fun.

The following sections provide the descriptions and syllabi of courses Jim has taught in the Department of Civil Engineering at Merrimack College:

CEN 3020: Geotechnical Engineering
CEN 3020L: Geotechnical Engineering Lab

Description:  An introduction to the fundamental principles of geotechnical engineering: the interaction of earth materials with the built environment. Soil classification, compaction, seepage, consolidation, and shear strength. Intensive laboratory exercises familiarize the student with standard laboratory test methods for soil property determination and to reinforce data collection, data analysis, and report writing skills. 

Semesters taught:  Fall semesters, 2012 to 2018 (Syllabus)

CEN 5020: Foundation Engineering

Description: An introduction to the geotechnical design aspects of foundations. Site investigation techniques and characterization of subsurface conditions. Analysis and design of shallow and deep foundations subjected to vertical and lateral loading, with an emphasis on bearing capacity and settlement. Evaluation and selection of foundation types and alternatives. Case studies and design problems.  Senior- and graduate-level course.

Semesters taught:  Spring 2013, Fall semesters 2013 to 2018 (Syllabus)

CEN 5022: Earth Slopes and Retaining Structures

Description:  An examination of the geotechnical design aspects of earth slopes and retaining structures. Lateral earth pressure theories and slope stability analyses related to excavations and retaining structures. Analysis and design of retaining walls, sheet-pile walls, and braced and unbraced excavations. Case studies and design problems.  Senior- and graduate-level course.

Semesters taught:  Spring semesters, 2014 to 2018 (Syllabus)

CEN 5024: Seismological and Geotechnical Aspects of Earthquakes

Description:  Study of the characterization of earthquake hazards, incorporating principles from engineering seismology, soil dynamics, and geotechnical earthquake engineering.  Earthquake fundamentals, including plate tectonics, fault rupture mechanisms, and characterization of seismic sources.  Theory of wave propagation and vibratory motion.  Ground-motion models and probabilistic seismic hazard analysis.  Dynamic soil behavior and influence of geologic materials on ground motions.  Assessment of geotechnical effects of earthquakes, including site response, liquefaction, and seismic slope stability.  Senior and graduate-level course.

Semesters taught:  Spring semesters, 2013 and 2018 (Syllabus)

GEN 2012: Mechanics of Materials
GEN 2012L: Mechanics of Materials Lab

Description:  Study of the fundamental mechanics of how materials behave when subjected to loadings, and how and why materials fail.  Fundamental concepts of stress and strain, and the relationships between them.  Effects of axial, shear, bending, and torsional loadings on the response of load-carrying members (such as beams, columns, shafts, tubes, and pressure vessels), and methods to determine the strength, stiffness, stability, and external deformations of these systems. Students will conduct laboratory tests for evaluating the engineering behavior of materials, and will analyze, evaluate, and communicate experimental results. Sophomore-level course.

Semesters taught:  Spring semesters, 2015, 2016, 2017, and 2019 (Syllabus)

MTH 1505: Applied Statistics and Probability for Engineers

Description:  An introduction to applied statistical and probability methods in engineering dealing with discrete and continuous variables, joint distributions, estimation, tests of hypotheses, regression, design of experiments and control charts. Statistical computer packages will be used in connection with some of the material studied.  Undergraduate-level course.

Semesters taught:  Spring 2014 (Syllabus)