An internationally recognized leader in aerodynamics research and expert on low-speed flight, Dr. McAndrew has five degrees: a PhD, two master’s degrees, and two bachelor’s degrees. Dr. McAndrews is also a Fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society And chairs several international conferences, where he has been invited to give keynote speeches all across the globe. He started his career in the automotive industry as an engine designer and before moving on to work at varying universities. Currently, Dr. McAndrew is Dean of doctoral programs at Capitol. As an external examiner on the worldwide stage (UK USA, Germany, Italy, Jordan, Japan, Australia, Greece and Kenya) his experience includes over 80 successful Doctorate successes.
What does experiential learning mean to you?
As a Dean of STEM-related Doctoral Programs, it is paramount that theory and practice are combined in the classroom. During my thirty years I. education, I have seen this need grow to a point where it is now critical if students are to fins any success. Simulations and modeling are important, but they are certainly not substitutes. Experiential learning can take many forms and requires careful focus along certain parameters. The purpose of working at a company is no longer just to gain experience. Specializations are needed to develop an erudite approach to success!
Why is experiential learning a priority for you?
As an engineer, it is core. Imagine a surgeon operating on you and only ever studied from books? It could not work and nor will it for most subjects.
Can you give us an example of a successful experiential learning engagement that you've coordinated/delivered?
When working in Africa teaching aviation, I developed a course on workshop practices — not realizing none had ever been in a workshop. It was clear that the theory meant nothing. I went to a local shop and bought a toolbox of standard parts. Without these props, no one would have learned.
Why do you use experiential learning?
Short answer, STEM cannot be taught without it. The long answer brings back a memory of the Space-X. When they docked, they were asked how the flight went. One answered '..it behaved just like the simulator.' He was only used to theory and the simulator worked as the real example was my thought. So you see, experiential learning is everywhere.
How do your students benefit from experiential learning?
Many of my students work in Cybersecurity areas of the defense of the US. It is core from day one in all studies.
What's the most challenging part of being an #ExperientialEducator? (coordinating/delivering an experiential learning curriculum to students)
Having up-to-date equipment as technology advances faster than budgets do. With effectively designed assignments, the possibilities grow. Money will always be a challenge in education for most, so planning, adapting and lateral thinking is a solution.
What skills do your students use when engaged in experiential learning?
This has to be a question I need 10,000 words to answer. In summary, excellent theory and a chance to explore and make errors with a defined objective.
What advice do you have for faculty and institutions considering experiential learning?
PLAN PLAN and PLAN. There are many products that are being sold, deigned or adapted by others to make money. Spend your money wisely and after you know what is needed to be done. Make the laboratory encouraging to work in and support with technicians that can advise. Clearly, this is a STEM answer.