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WVU Tech engineering professor dedicated to student success

Yogen and Austin Dr Yogen Panta and former student Austen Robinson

Earning the Professional Engineer (PE) certification is a lengthy process. Engineers take the fundamentals of engineering (FE) exam after graduation. After successful completion of the FE exam, engineers are granted “Engineer in Training” status, which is the first step in earning the PE license. Then, engineers must have four years of work experience under the supervision of a professional engineer to be eligible to take the PE exam. Earning it shows a level of competency in their chosen engineering field.

Engineering professors in academia can also take the PE exam. Dr. Yogendra Panta, Associate Professor in the mechanical engineering department, recently completed his PE exam. He says there are pros and cons to those in academia preparing to take the exam but says getting his PE license was important for two reasons: showing dedication to his field and knowing what is on the test to help students pass the exam in the future.

Dr. Panta says he spent six months preparing and studying for the PE exam.

“I’ve gone through many exams in my life, but this is the exam I liked the most. The preparation materials have so many applications that I can test myself on and give me ideas of things I’m missing or not teaching my students. Now, I desire to incorporate these challenging and application-based materials into my classes,” Panta says.

He says he’s started to incorporate much of the PE preparation material into his courses already.

“We need to make sure our students are competent. I think that's very important,” he explains.

While talking with Dr. Panta about earning his PE, it's clear he earned his PE certification not just for pride. He knows by taking the exam himself, he can better prepare students who are getting ready to graduate and begin their careers in engineering.

He encourages students that if they need help in preparing for the PE exam four- or five years post-graduation to reach out to him so he can help them.

“Students are constantly changing, and so do professors and the teaching environment,” Panta says. “I’m always thinking of ways of ‘What can I add or do differently?’ in my classes.”

One approach Panta has implemented is asking for feedback throughout his courses instead of waiting for teaching evaluations at the end of the semester. He gives students a chance to give feedback after every topic so he can implement what is working or change how he is teaching a subject during the semester.

Dr. Panta is so passionate about preparing students and being an effective teacher that he has based much of his research on engineering education.

Dr. Panta recently earned the honor of being a Fulbright scholar, receiving a grant to study engineering education in his native country of Nepal. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, his trip to Nepal has been on hold but is tentatively set to leave at the end of May. He will be there for six months.

In addition to researching ways students learn in America and Nepal, Panta will be doing workshops sharing his teaching techniques while learning from faculty at universities in Nepal.

He says he focuses on active learning and effective teaching methods. He plans to do some preliminary research at Tech and compare what works for students here to what works for students in Nepal.

“It’s been a long time since I got my undergraduate degree from Nepal. I haven’t experienced the teaching environment there. It's my goal to develop an academic collaboration that benefits Tribhuvan University [in Nepal] and WVU Tech so we can promote greater understanding between cultures and educational practices. I look forward to sharing and learning from our commonalities and differences,” he says.

Panta hopes his trip will help establish collaboration between students and faculty at both institutions.

Panta hopes to apply for another Fulbright scholarship in the future to further his research on effective teaching in another country. He wants to use what he learns in Nepal at Tech and is excited to showcase West Virginia and WVU Tech on a global stage.

“My main goal is to explore and promote effective teaching techniques and active learning environment for student success and faculty development at engineering institutions,” he says.

“I just want to help as many people as I can and make a positive impact as an educator.”