Spotlight on Jim Hanson, Civil Engineering

Story by Dale Long, Director of Media Relations

Award-winning civil engineering educator Jim Hanson, PhD, believes teaching is more about giving students the ability to ask the right questions than providing future engineers with just skills to address tomorrow’s challenging problems.

Hanson in Class

Asking Questions: Civil Engineering Professor Jim Hanson strives to get students to come up with creative, out-of-the-box concepts in design projects

That’s why Rose-Hulman students know Hanson isn’t always going to answer a question posed in class or project review session. Rather, Hanson is most likely to reply with a question like "Is that reasonable?" "Why did you come up with that conclusion?" Or, "Convince me that’s the best solution."

Students' problem-solving and design skills were further honed this fall in a new building systems course developed by Hanson. The mission of the first project assignment was designing a structure that could stand with only three base columns. Hanson took great pride in the students’ multitude of creative solutions, each taking a different design approach.

Then, in Hanson's construction course, he challenged students to plan the development of a paved road or trail in a tropical rain forest.

"My job is to get students to think creatively. It’s those out-of-the-box concepts that excite me and bring me to the classroom with a sense of wonder," says Hanson. Read more.