Professor Muthuswamy named first woman of color VP for educational council

Exciting things are happening for Associate Professor of Engineering Technology Shanthi Muthuswamy, Ph.D. In January 2020 she joined the executive committee as the vice president of the College Industry Council on Material Handling Education (CICMHE), which has made history for the organization. “We have had only two female presidents in the last 68 years,” she said. “I am the first woman of color to join the executive committee as the VP.  I hope I won’t be the last!”  After completing her two-year tenure as the VP, she will continue to serve as the president of CICMHE for the following two years.

 The first woman of color VP

MHI is the nation’s largest material handling, logistics, and supply chain association with 800+ members.  The members are manufacturers of material handling, logistics equipment and supply chain management systems, who sell their products to end-users such as Amazon, Tesla, Walmart etc.  MHI develops solutions to common industrial challenges faced by its members and has 17 industry groups that work on product-specific market data and ANSI standards compliance standards. “Any company that needs material handling equipment to move their products, or logistics related solutions, will invariably be working with one of the MHI members,” she said.

MHI strongly values the importance of material handling education and partners with CICMHE to harness the knowledge and insights from academia. CICMHE is composed of 16 members drawn from faculty at leading universities and 5 members from the material handling Industry who are distributors, end-users and consultants. CICMHE is actively involved in developing the next generation workforce for the industry.

Some of the key events organized by CICMHE include: classroom days in which students from all over the country visit MHI’s industry trade shows such as PROMAT and MODEX to see the latest innovations in material handling technologies; a Material Handling Teachers Institute, which equips faculty with the most relevant strategies and techniques for teaching material handling courses; an International Material Handling Research Colloquium which brings together the researchers who are working on the current logistics, supply chain and material handling related challenges. The organization also conducts student material handling design competitions, and writes white papers and gives presentations on topics such as big data, Industry 4.0, etc.

Muthuswamy said that over the past several decades, CICMHE members have been the “gurus” of the material handling industry. “It’s an honor to be on the executive committee and follow in their footsteps. We have the power to make the material handling education better and shape tomorrow’s leaders!”

Awarded for virtual teaching solutions
But there is more exciting news for Muthuswamy, much closer to home. She was selected to receive NIU’s David W. Raymond Award for the Use of Technology in Teaching. She earned the award for the tutoring tool she created for the CEET called “5-Minute Solutions” – a series of videos 3-5 minutes long that quickly and succinctly explain essential concepts in the areas of engineering and mathematics. Students use them to review and refresh basic concepts to perform well in their assignments, quizzes, and exams.

“Students tend to forget some concepts over the summer and having the pre-req video packages help them refresh these ideas before taking the higher-level courses,” she said. These videos have made a difference! In the year after launching the videos, data collected from an engineering course showed an 11% increase in the number of students who got A’s & B’s, a 7% decrease in C’s & D’s, and 5% fewer students failed the course.

The award is presented each year by the Division of Academic Affairs in the office of the executive vice president and provost. The winner is a faculty member who has “most creatively and fruitfully implemented new teaching technologies.”

Muthuswamy started the 5-Minute Solutions project in 2016 with a couple of courses and worked up to 16 different undergraduate courses. There are currently more than 430 videos that have been viewed over 4,000 times. The videos are accessible to all CEET students through the Blackboard and are smartphone friendly. What makes these videos effective is that the content is based directly on the textbooks used for the courses.

Muthuswamy is scheduled, in the near future, to present on the 5-Minute Solutions project to the university.

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