I’m Aaron Johnson, an Instructor in the Smead Aerospace Engineering Science Department at the University of Colorado Boulder. I'm interested in both teaching and researching ways to improve engineering science courses, which are the sophomore- and junior-level courses where students learn all of the mathematical models that describe the world and can then be used in design.
When I first started teaching an engineering science course myself in Fall 2018 (sophomore mechanics of materials at the University of Michigan), I focused on the mathematical problem-solving processes. A lot of the problems I gave my students had one single answer and featured systems of bars and beams that were devoid of any real-world context. While learning how to do this math is certainly important, I wasn't teaching a math course; I was teaching an engineering course. So, in the downtime after my first year of teaching, I asked myself a fundamental question that still motivates my teaching and research today: What's the engineering in these engineering science courses, and how can I engage students in the engineering?
On this website you can read about my current and past engineering education research projects, and you can view a list of the engineering courses I have taught at many diferent universities. If you're interested in seeing my entire CV, you can download that here.
This website also showcases some of the interesting and varied projects I have been a part of outside of my current focus on engineering education: conducting Ph.D. research on cognitive ergonomics, creating educational videos, statistically analyzing the NFL, and writing about science and engineering for a popular audience.
Also, in case you were wondering, my personal top 5 aerospace-related songs are (in no particular order):
- "The Commander Thinks Aloud" by The Long Winters
- "Starman" by David Bowie
- "Learn to Fly" by the Foo Fighters
- "Spaceman" by the Killers
- "Major Tom (Coming Home)" by Shiny Toy Guns (originally written in German by Peter Schilling)