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Hydrogen Properties for Energy Research (HYPER) Lab Dr. Jacob Leachman

The HYPER Lab’s Self-Training Philosophy

It’s no accident that we’ve had a run of brilliant students in the HYPER lab. Here’s a post on how we’ve managed to recruit brilliant students. As the lab continues to grow, we need to standardize and continuously improve our development process.

Our process for developing students borrows heavily from the Montessori system for early childhood development. A post on how this relates to collegiate engineering students is here. The key elements we borrow from Montessori are:

  1. A highly structured learning space. We follow the classic engineering design, build, test progression and have laboratory spaces for each. More broadly speaking we follow the key traits of leading design firms by having spaces for play, focus, work, and collaboration.
  2. Personal space for learning. We have several Cougar LEAN (CLEAN) benches for people to engage in un-interrupted 3-hour time blocks of activity.
  3. People are given the autonomy to decide what they need to learn, when they need to learn it. Provided we are still contributing to the needs of our community constituents.

The above framework generally handles the spatial, temporal, and resource/energetics dimensions required of personal development. The remaining dimension is information/knowledge and scaffolding is required to aid and continuously improve this development. I’ve written posts and proposals on Scaffolding the Growth of Agency in Engineering which includes essential reading if you’re serious about this. I’ve included only a brief summary here. The JigSaw method of education generally covers the foundation of well rounded engineers that are knowledgeable and competent in the following areas:

  1. Building/Manufacturing: From the raw materials and components into the final product. A writeup of the builder role is here.
  2. Reporting/Communicating: On many levels what is happening and why. A writeup of the reporter role is here.
  3. Processes/Standards: Information guru who is experienced with the codes and standards within an area and adept at developing processes for executing them. A writeup of the process pro is here.
  4. Theory/Calculations: Theoretically minded and skilled with implementing and analyzing the physical arts through mathematics. A writeup of the theorist role is here.
  5. Liaison/Leadership: Teamwork mastery polymath that can improvise to fill in the above roles and is aware to spot when the team is stuck in a paradigm or has unknowns building to a critical level. A writeup on the role of the liaison is here.

For an engineering team to be effective, there are people in the team that handle each of these roles. For an individual to have the most value to a team, they are proficient in each of the possible roles. But how do we measure proficiency in broadly defined roles such as these? –Spiral value Memes. I’ve written extensively about Spiral v-Memes in everything from football, to personal fitness, to education, and even politics. An introduction is here. An effective measure of agency and mastery within any of the jigsaw roles above can be assessed through classification based on Spiral v-Memes (Authoritarian-1, Legalistic-2, Performance-3, Communitarian-4, Systemic-5). Remember that mastery of Spiral v-Memes is nested — your ability to perform at higher levels is enabled by mastery of the lower levels. These levels loosely correspond to the sophomore (1) through 2nd year graduate student (5), but in reality it takes some longer than others and likely an entire lifetime to master all of the roles. So in each of the self-learning (autodidactic) modules developed by the HYPER lab below, we’ve estimated the level of difficulty, or level of performance someone is at to determine whether they are ready for the challenge.

The modules in the menu to the left are aggregated into the Jigsaw roles above. Each exercise has a corresponding achievement level estimate listed in parentheses. This list will continue to grow as we develop new modules.

Washington State University