Big Idea: Professor Finds New Way of Teaching Computer Programming

Brad Vander Zanden

Brad Vander Zanden, a professor in electrical engineering and computer science, developed a big idea to help beginning computer science students. Vander Zanden created a program to use in Computer Science 102 that gives students an easy way to enter computer programs and test them in class. It is a simplified introduction to the type of programming that professionals do.

What’s Your Big Idea?—Michael Zemel

Faculty, staff, students, and alumni are sharing the big ideas that make a difference in their world. Michael Zemel, a professor emeritus of nutrition, had the big idea to start a company which sells nutrition supplements that promote weight loss and healthy blood sugar.

Big Idea: Students Lead Voter Registration Drive

Three Baker Ambassadors have a big idea to get the UT community to participate in the November 6 presidential election. Charleigh Cagle, Lisa Dicker, and Alexandra Chaisson led a voter registration drive at UT. The drive started September 26 and ends at 5:00 p.m. today. The three ambassadors said voting is an important and easy way to get involved with the government.

What’s Your Big Idea?—Paul Erwin

Paul Erwin, professor and director of public health, has the big idea of using research to make communities healthier. His Public Health Grand Rounds program focuses on practice-based research to improve the public’s health. PHGR is an activity of UT’s Department of Public Health and Knox County Health Department’s formal partnership called the Academic Health Department.

Big Idea: Professor Uses Board Games to Teach Decision-Making


James Ostrowski, a professor in industrial and information engineering, devised a big idea to combat his students’ boredom: board games. Starting in the spring, Ostrowski will use board games to help students in Industrial Engineering 322 learn about operations research. Operations research is a sub-section of engineering that focuses on using “analytical methods to make decisions with large amounts of data,” Ostrowski said.

Big Idea: Professor Creates Website to Aid Calculus Students


Professor Nikolay Brodskiy wasn’t satisfied with typical calculus textbooks so he came up with a big idea: create a website with more complete information to help students better understand the subject. Unsatisfied with the textbooks he’d found, Brodskiy began to write his own explanations and answers. He put them on a website to share with students and then added notes and videos from his lectures with interactive demonstrations of concepts.

What’s Your Big Idea?—Nate Kelly

Big Orange Big Ideas

Faculty, staff, students, and alumni are sharing the big ideas that make a difference in their world. Nate Kelly, associate professor in the department of political science, has the big idea of studying the politics of income inequality in the United States.

Big Idea: Engineering Graduate Uses Degree in Africa

Stewart Goodwin

Stewart Goodwin, a recent UT graduate, has a big idea for using his mechanical engineering degree to help others: In October, Goodwin will travel to South Sudan, Africa, to assist with and construct water supply projects.

What’s Your Big Idea?—Hap McSween

Big Orange Big Ideas

Faculty, staff, students, and alumni are sharing the big ideas that make a difference in their world. Harry “Hap” McSween, Chancellor’s Professor in the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, has the big idea of engaging kids in science and engineering by letting them see first-hand that science is fun. McSween will speak at the College of Arts and Sciences Pregame Showcase at 4:00 p.m. on Saturday, September 15, in the University Center Ballroom.

Big Idea: Professor Highlights Student Veterans through Photos

Baldwin Lee

Art Professor Baldwin Lee wants to help student veterans document their time in the military through their own candid photos. But he’s not looking for posed photos or action shots. He’s interested in pictures that capture their everyday experiences while serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. Lee’s project is called “Through a Soldier’s Eye.”