When David Smith was growing up, he was fascinated to learn how objects like cars and televisions worked.
That curiosity developed into a profession. Between earning his bachelor's degree in engineering and pursuing his Ph.D., Smith actually got a chance to work in the auto industry.
"I wanted to be one of those people who knew how things really worked and then design ways to make them better," he said. "When I worked for one of the suppliers in the auto industry, we designed different components for exhaust systems, including flex pipes and EGR coolers. Then, during my Ph.D., I studied turbulence in dialysis grafts in the mechanical engineering department at the University of Illinois at Chicago."
During graduate school, Smith enjoyed being a teaching assistant, helping students either through lectures or during office hours. He taught part-time at College of DuPage in 2007 and, upon graduation, wanted to be a teacher. In the meantime, he secured a job at Argonne National Laboratory in the Energy Systems Division, working on various projects that involved cooling truck engines more efficiently.
When a full-time position opened up at COD in 2009, Smith made the change.
"Engineering is all about learning different ways to approach problems and understanding the physics involved in each problem," he said. "You have to be able to think and figure out how each situation relates back to what you learned and be creative. A good engineer is a blend of both good math and science skills with a lot of creativity and design."
Smith's goal each semester is to improve the program so that students have fun, get more out of the experience and are better engineers upon graduation.
"I try to always remember that each of my students is going to be an engineer and will be designing products that I will use in the future," he said. "This helps me to put additional effort into each lecture."