Innovation in the Classroom & On the Ocean Floor

David Cummins

David Cummins

David Cummins teaches Marine Technology and Mechanical Design at Alpena Community College in Northern Michigan. In his day-to-day work, David uses his knowledge as a Certified SOLIDWORKS Professional to teach his students hands-on skills and how to test new ideas. His students take that knowledge and build underwater robots to explore local shipwrecks.

One of the things David’s students enjoy most about his class is the hands-on environment he creates by relying less on textbooks. As he recently told us, “I have had great success with switching to SolidProfessor from the traditional textbook. The videos have allowed me to move the lectures outside the classroom. This provides me with more time to work with the students one-on-one and keeps the classroom a ‘do-it’ environment.”

As active and experiential learning are becoming increasingly popular teaching methods, the success David is having with his approach to teaching is proof that this evolution of the classroom is effective not only for engagement and retention, but also in encouraging students to explore topics and further their education on their own.

“Unlike my lectures, students can pause a video, back it up, and replay it as many times as they need! The diversity of the video topics available has also allowed the students to seek out their own curiosities and go deep into many of the specialized areas of the most popular CAD programs. Something no single textbook can do!”

In addition to his innovative work in the classroom, David is a Science Communication Fellow with the Nautilus Exploration Program aboard the Exploration Vessel (E/V) Nautilus. Staffed by a Corps of Exploration made up of engineers, scientists, teachers, and more, the E/V Nautilus makes it possible for the program to explore and research the ocean floor.

Innovation and inspiration is at the core of the Nautilus Exploration Program. As the Program’s mission statement reads:

“Our primary objective is to explore the ocean seeking out new discoveries in the fields of geology, biology, maritime history, archaeology, and chemistry while pushing the boundaries of engineering, technology, education, and communications. We aim to share our story and our science with explorers around the world via live telepresence from aboard Exploration Vessel Nautilus. Our Corps of Exploration aspires to serve as role models for the next generation of explorers, scientists, engineers and educators. We promise to bring our audience only cutting edge exploration, live from the bottom of the ocean as we explore landscapes that have never been explored before.​”

And they truly are delivering on that promise. Check out the video below with highlights of the E/V Nautilus’ 2016 Expedition and follow the 2017 Expedition, exploring the Pacific Ocean from the Pacific Northwest to Baja California.

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Phylicia Clifton
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