They say if you want to get something done, ask a busy person. That person is Martin Pugh.
Pugh plays squash, cycles to the Sir George Williams Campus from his West Island home (“except in winter”), and keeps track of three dogs, two cats, two kids, more than 1,000 undergraduates, and several hundred graduate students.
The professor and chair of the Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering is busy, sporty and a good sport. He recently kept his promise to shave his head if the Concordia chapter of Women in Engineering raised $1,000 to support research into cancers affecting women.
The key to successful teaching “is to be enthusiastic about your subject,” he says. “I like my subject and I like to transmit that to my students.”
If enthusiasm is what it takes, Pugh has it in abundance. His subject is engineering materials “that make up everything around us – iPads, kitchen knives, cars.” He is an expert on the properties, processes and failure of engineering materials, including ceramics, plastics, composites, as well as joining processes such as soldering and welding.
Though an Engineering professor, Pugh isn’t married to high-tech classroom toys, preferring to “pick and choose what works well.” He still uses the blackboard, but also employs Power Point and a tablet PC to annotate and draw while diagrams and tables remain on screen.
He likes to bring to class “failed parts and bits, like the gas-turbine blades out of jet engines, to discuss how and why they’re broken.” It drives home the lesson to students that failure may be due to abuse, poor design, or improper manufacture. “They’ll be better engineers if they know how and why things break,” he says.
Pugh is as interested in a classroom discussion about how to pick a good squash racquet as he is talking about a robotic space arm.
He did his Bachelor of Science and doctoral work at the University of Leeds, and a post-doctorate degree at McGill University. He arrived at Concordia in December 1998, following a stint as a lecturer at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand. In his sixth year as department chair, Pugh also served for four years as undergraduate program director.
“No time off for good behaviour,” he quips. “Teaching is the highlight of my week.”
• “Pugh Shaves to Save” – November 15, 2011
• Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering
• Women in Engineering Concordia