Back in the 1990s, a winter storm caused a power
outage on the Rose-Hulman campus and closed the school
for the first time in years. So much for Phil Cornwell's
review session, thought electrical
the important stuff and made you fill it in, keeping you
engaged throughout the lecture." Likewise, she says, Cornwell's
example problems held key lessons and applied the theories covered
in lecture. "You couldn't help but learn the material." "I consider
being a teacher a calling," Cornwell says. "When I was working on
my Ph.D. at Princeton, I discovered that research was OK and I was
good at it, but what really energized me was teaching
students. Therefore, I decided to look for a job at a school where
the emphasis was undergraduate education and teaching."
That turned out to be Rose-Hulman, which he says
nurtured his teaching skills. "I'd never taught when I came here,
but I would teach with someone else. That was tremendous for me."
Cornwell is a believer in active learning, allowing students to
learn by doing and through interactive examples. Being a good
teacher, he says, means "being organized, having a mastery of the
material, being enthusiastic, respecting the students, engaging
students in the material through actively learning, homework and
projects, having high expectations and standards, and helping
students reach those standards." It's a lot of effort, but
definitely worth it, he says. "The most satisfying part of the job
is helping students learn and seeing them become successful after
engineering student Kelly Orr.
"I remember in the next day of class, Dr. Cornwell asked why
no one had showed up for the review. He said that he was there and
had candles," recalls Orr (EE, 1996), who is manager consultant at
Sogeti USA. "For the rest of my years at Rose-Hulman, several of my
colleagues and I had a saying, 'I Had Candles,' that we used as
sort of an example of 'No Excuses.'" There's certainly no excuse
for being stumped by difficult subject matter if the professor is
Cornwell, who became Vice President for Academic Affairs last year.
He's well known for making tough topics easier to grasp. How? By
letting students fill in the blanks, according to Julie Baas (ME,
2011), who works for Honeywell Federal Manufacturing and
Technologies. "Dr. Cornwell's notes were invaluable," Baas says.
"He didn't just hand you a packet and ask you to follow along. He