Professor Costanzo strongly believes that a good research program must be sustained by a companion strong effort in educating students both at the undergraduate and graduate level. Prof. Costanzo has been actively involved in education from the start of his career and has received various grants for the improvement of engineering education, with sponsorships by the US National Science Foundation and General Electric among them. His involvement in education reform has earned him several awards, including the 1999 American Society of Engineering Education Outstanding New Mechanics Educator Award the 2007 Penn State Engineering Society Premier Teaching Award.
As part of his achievements, in 2002 Prof. Costanzo, along with Prof. Gray (Penn State) and Prof. Plesha (University of Wisconsin Madison) was asked by The McGraw-Hill Publishing Co. to contribute to the creation of a new generation of sophomore-level engineering mechanics books in statics and dynamics. These are subjects that form the core foundation of engineering education in virtually all engineering majors. The author team has extensive experience not only in the classroom, but also in STEM research and they have written these books, now in their second edition, to provide a concrete realization of their research efforts in engineering eduction. These books were written to achieve various pedagogical objectives. Specifically,
(i) Respecting a long-standing traditions, the books offer a rigorous coverage of the fundamentals of particle and rigid body statics and dynamics.
(ii) These books are meant to embody and support some of the new pedagogical paradigms that STEM research has identified as essential for improving student learning. No one disputes that a good conceptual understanding contributes to good problem solving skills. However, it is not necessarily true that practicing problem-solving improves conceptual understanding. In these books, conceptual understanding is given a special attention and it is fostered with specific sets of problems that are distinct from those meant to practice problem-solving.
(iii) The presentation of the various traditional topics is tied by an underlying theme, namely, the construction of physical model, with the understanding that a model is built to provide a predictive capability and answer specific sets of questions.
(iv) A models always consists of a three components, namely, kinematics, balance laws, and constitutive equations, these elements have been used to create a systematic problem-solving approach Every example in these books is tackled using the same modeling paradigm.
Francesco Costanzo, Ph.D.
Center for Neural Engineering
W-315 Millenium Science Complex
The Pennsylvania State University
University Park, PA 16802