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Hudson Inspires Students to Explore Their Engineering Dreams

September 24, 2014

Hudson W Foulkes

On The Leading Edge: Professor Tina Hudson works with students in the Test & Product Engineering Laboratory, provided by Eagle Test Systems and Texas Instruments. This facility gives graduates the unique skills to test complex electronics for automotive, computing, telecommunications, aerospace, and defense industries. (Photo by Chris Minnick)

A classroom, a laboratory, or simply a jam-packed campus hallway—nowhere is off limits for Tina Hudson to help Rose-Hulman students understand topics within analog digital systems or electronic device modeling.

“So what’s happening next?” the associate professor of electrical and computer engineering asks a student during a recent hallway teaching moment.

He provided part of the correct answer.

“OK, you’re on the right track, but what’s really happening here?” Hudson asks again.

Finally, after several minutes the student came up with the correct solution.

“See, that wasn’t hard at all,” says Hudson in an encouraging manner that would make a mother proud. “You knew it all along!”

Those are the special times that have made Hudson one of Rose-Hulman’s most inspiring teachers—and recipient of the 2014 Dean’s Outstanding Teacher Award.

“Working with students brightens my day—every day. I feel so blessed at being in a job that’s enjoyable, so meaningful, and shares my passion for teaching,” she says. “I’m here to get students to think differently and critically. All of my classes are my tools. It’s my job to use those tools to get students to grow intellectually.”

Dean of Faculty Richard Stamper calls attention to a study of 30,000 adults about the types of college experiences that led to their successful workplace engagement and overall well-being. The odds more than doubled, he stated, when the adult recalled having a professor who cared about them as a person, made them excited about learning, and encouraged them to pursue their dreams.

“Tina Hudson cares about her students, and they care about her. That’s the special relationship that makes her such a great teacher,” says Stamper.

A former student commented recently that “I had Dr. Hudson for a class where I was afraid and worried about how well I would do. She invested time in me and built up my intuition on the subject. She showed me that the subject wasn’t so bad after all. Most of all, she showed me how amazing a subject it could be. If it wasn’t for her, I wouldn’t be taking the path I am now on, and I would still be afraid of something that now excites me.”

Meanwhile, a female student has found Hudson—a wife (husband Mario Simoni is a fellow Rose-Hulman professor), mother of three children (12, 10, and 7 years old), and a professional engineer—as an inspirational role model.

Those comments quickly bring a broad smile to Hudson’s face.

“I live for those moments; they’re cherished,” she says.

Hudson has supplemented her love of teaching with building relationships with Teradyne, Micron, and Texas Instruments, where she has worked as a visiting engineer. Those relationships have led to internships for Rose-Hulman students, equipment for the institute’s laboratories, great classroom examples, and funding for educational activities within her academic department.

“If you want to learn something well, teach it,” she says. “You need to understand the material better than you’re teaching it. I’m always looking at ways to become a better teacher.”