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2016 Silver Circle winner Yeow Siow

Professor Siow lecturing

Yeow Siow, clinical assistant professor of mechanical and industrial engineering, says he is “extremely surprised and really excited” to receive a Silver Circle Award in his third year of teaching at UIC.

“I’ve taught quite a variety of engineering courses, from an engineering design class that everyone takes as a freshman, to fluid mechanics, heat transfer, machine design, and intermediate thermodynamics,” said Siow, who earned his three mechanical engineering degrees at Michigan Technological University.

“I enjoy standing in front of students and trying to make sense of a complex subject.”

Siow likes teaching outside his area of expertise, “because the best way to really learn something is to teach it.”

But he also tries to teach from experience, especially in his own areas of research — fluid dynamics, thermodynamics and heat transfer.

Siow’s focus is on education research — innovative methods of content delivery and assessment. He presented at the American Society for Engineering Education last year on the use of visualization methods he implemented in a thermodynamics course to help students grasp a complex three-dimensional shape.

“There’s a famous 3-D pressure-volume-temperature diagram that’s complex, but students really need to understand from the beginning,” Siow said. “They can’t learn it from textbooks, which are two-dimensional, so I turned it into a two-part active learning project.”

In the first part, he directs students to play with their food — to “sculpt the shape, and understand the intricacies of the slope and curves” of the PVT diagram. Then, students model the shape using CAD software and use another software to render the 3-D shape as sliced planes.

Finally, they present their work in the form of a report.

“Instead of homework, I assign projects,” he said. “Students need to relate and apply what they learn in class.”