Engineering Lecturer Builds Class Character with Frequent Message
Dr. Randall Lehmann
When Carissa Roper BS’12, MS‘13 walked into a class taught by Dr. Randall Lehmann, a senior lecturer in the Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science, she was greeted not by a mathematical formula, but with the word “character” written across the board.
“He then explained that we were all intelligent and capable, but our character is how we would really affect the world,” she said. “In his mind, it was important not only to instruct us on radio frequency (RF) engineering, but to help us develop a strong moral fiber so that we could be conscientious members of the community.”
The daily character warm-ups include a vignette from his nearly 30 years working in a field where traits, such as respect, courage or resourcefulness, would come into play and how they are still relevant today.
“In our society of ever-increasing bursts of texts and tweets it becomes imperative to capture and retain the attention of our students from the beginning of each class,” he said. “And I believe the world needs engineers who will be responsible when applying the talents they have been given, even if that means working extra hours to meet a project deadline or respectfully standing up to a supervisor.”
Lehmann, who is also a faculty advisor, teaches in the electrical engineering area of RF/microwave circuits — technology that is the basis for cellphones and wireless and sensor technologies. The field is difficult to comprehend and mathematically intense, but he is known for incorporating innovative tools to strip complex topics to the core, while using his experience and current events to help students discover why they should pay attention.
Dr. Randall Lehmann
TITLE: Senior lecturer and faculty advisor in electrical engineering
EXPERIENCE: Registered professional engineer in Texas with nearly 30 years industry experience at organizations such as Raytheon Co., TriQuint Semiconductor Inc., and Texas Instruments
OTHER ACCOLADES: Finalist for the University’s teaching award for inclusive excellence in 2012; electrical engineering teacher of the year in 2009 and 2012; outstanding engineer award from the Dallas section of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers in 1996 for service to the engineering field
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One of his most significant curriculum contributions has been designing, building and maintaining an RF teaching lab that shows students the applications of the theories they are learning in class. The lab, which is also used by senior design, graduate and postdoctoral students, houses state-of-the art equipment typically unavailable to undergraduates. Though the lab is optional for students, most take advantage of the opportunity. He also introduced Applied Wave Research computer-aided design software, which enhances learning.
Lehmann started teaching part time in the electrical engineering department at UT Dallas in 2004, when there were only a few RF/microwave circuit classes. But his efforts have helped make the subject an electrical engineering concentration for graduate students. His classes are popular and have consistently reached maximum enrollment. Shortly after he started, students submitted a petition asking him to teach more classes and hire more instructors like him.
“I believe that he has a rare talent for teaching that few individuals can match,” said Dr. Mark W. Spong, dean of the Jonsson School. “He did not achieve popularity by being easy. On the contrary, the students recognize not only his high level of rigor, but also his passion for the subject, his caring attitude and his tireless dedication to student learning outcomes.
“He is among the most valuable faculty members in the department in terms of impact on curriculum and standards.”
Lehmann also has been credited with improving the recruitment of top-ranked faculty in the field of RF/microwave/analog circuits, which has expanded the research infrastructure of the department and resulted in the success of the Texas Analog Center of Excellence.
In addition to his teaching and advising roles, Lehmann has been a guest lecturer for the UT Dallas chapter of the Society of Women in Engineers and a sponsor of the UT Dallas chapter of the Texas Society of Professional Engineers. He helps recruit other faculty members to assist students in preparing for the Fundamentals of Engineering exam, which is required for professional engineer registration. He also has served as a judge of senior design day presentations. He uses his experience recruiting for companies such as Raytheon Co., Texas Instruments and TriQuint Semiconductor Inc. to critique student resumes and give students realistic career options.
He regularly speaks to high school physics students to inspire them to consider engineering and attend UT Dallas. He also has organized all-day seminars for high school students to hear lectures and experience demonstrations from Jonsson School professors.
Today, he is most consumed by his teaching.
“I love teaching undergrads,” Lehmann said. “There is something about watching the ‘light bulb go on’ as they learn about this area of electrical engineering that they have had little exposure to in earlier classes. It is very satisfying to see the genuine interest of a number of students each semester to make the decision to pursue RF in graduate school or for their career. Just as one particular professor created a spark in me to pursue RF while I was an undergrad, I am glad to be able to do that at UTD.
“I am grateful for the opportunity to teach undergrads and hope to continue to do this for many more years.”
Media Contact: The Office of Media Relations, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, [email protected].