Graves2    Graves3
   Why try to learn in the classroom when there's a basketball court open? This is Indiana, after all, and Elton Graves knows that is where students would rather be. So one day he brought in a ball and told his

Graves' teaching inspired Cochran to become an assistant  professor of mathematics at the University of Tennessee-Martin. "Dr. Graves' enthusiasm is contagious," he says. "When he enters the classroom, he brings with him an excitement about mathematics that can easily be felt."
   "I think you have to be engaged and excited about the subject," Graves says. "Using models and demonstrations helps students see the mathematics as a tool they will actually need as engineers or scientists."
   Lea Dekker (EE, 2011), an applications engineer at National Instruments, says Graves was always in tune with the needs of his students. "If his students looked lost, he'd pick up on that and change to a different teaching style," she says. "His door was always open, too. Sometimes it seems like he was the first professor to arrive and the last one to leave."
   "Dr. Graves' passion for his work was truly evident every day," adds Phil Banet (MA, 1991), a senior actuary at Allstate Insurance. "I don't think I ever remember him having an 'off' day when we had class."
   It's the reaction of students that Graves finds truly energizing. "The most satisfying and rewarding part of being a professor is seeing students' eyes light up when they understand the mathematics I am trying to teach." Page Square

math students to imagine they're working in a group that will design a robot that plays basketball.
    "The robot is going to emulate shooting a basketball," he stated. "Your job is to figure out what math is required so programmers can make the robot make a free throw every time. What are the parameters you have to give the programmers and the mechanical engineers?"
   This kind of real-world example makes Graves one of the best in undergraduate math education-and his students appreciate his work.
   "Dr. Graves could help you visualize difficult material," says John Cochran (ChE/MA, 1997; MSChE, 1999). "I remember we were talking about gradients, and he started the class by telling us we were going on a field trip. He proceeded to lead
us outside with a meter stick, and showed us what the gradient really meant from a physical perspective."