Q&A with lecturer Wayne Chang

4/6/2020 Maddie Yang

Written by Maddie Yang

Wayne Chang
Wayne Chang
Dr. Wayne Chang grew up in Los Angeles and studied mechanical engineering at the University of California, Irvine, earning his bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees there. His primary research interest was studying air pollution, sparking the interest of Professor Nicole Riemer, here at Illinois, who invited him to study with her. After completing a postdoctoral position at UIUC, he fell in love with Urbana-Champaign, and decided to stay, becoming a lecturer for the MechSE department.

Q: What made you choose to study mechanical engineering?
A: I didn't really have a particular reason I just thought, you know, pick something, try it out, and I ended up really liking it! 

Q: What sort of research have you done in the past?
A: For my PhD, my primary research interest was looking at air pollution and pollutants from the atmosphere: how they transport through metropolitan areas versus rural areas. I looked at how you can have pollutants in the gas phase forming smog, and the impact that has on societies. Then I moved here to do a postdoc in the atmospheric sciences department, doing the same thing essentially, looking at air pollution. I then transitioned to MechSE working with Professor Chia-Fon Lee doing research on internal combustion engines: how to design engines to be more efficient and clean, things like that. And then I stayed on, started teaching, and here we are!

Q: What research are you doing now at Illinois?
A: When I transferred over to MechSE, I was looking at how to use different kind of fuels—mixing gasoline with natural gas and natural gas and diesel, different novel ways to design engines in order to make them meet the emission standards. Before I was studying air pollution, and that air pollution has to come from somewhere. Now I’m looking at what are the sources of pollutants, so I’m more focused on auto builds and engine emissions. 

Q: What classes have you taught?
A: I taught all the TAM 200 level courses: 210, 211, 212, and 251. I’ve taught numerical fluid mechanics (ME 412) and I’ve taught internal combustion engine design at the graduate level (ME 503). I'm teaching fluid mechanics right now (ME 310) and I've also taught a civil engineering class on measurement instrumentation, looking at air pollution, how to measure it, what instruments to use, and what are the different methods that people can use to measure pollutants.

Q: What are you most excited to work on right now?
A: I think right now I'm actually more interested in engineering education. I want to find different ways to help students be successful and look at different ways to motivate students to do well. How can we connect with students, how can we come up with metrics that are fair for assessing students, how can we work with the faculty team to create a more comprehensive experience for students, as opposed to individual classes that just kind of do their own thing. For example, for TAM 210, 211, 212, and 251, all the instructors of those courses work together as a team. We meet every week to talk about how the classes are going. I’m actually the coordinator of those courses, so I make sure that the TAs and the course assistants have all their questions answered. We also try to make all the courses consistent, so we have the same expectations, same type of homework, same format for quizzes. That way students can move through the TAM courses without any surprises. 

Q: Any fun facts you’d like to tell us about yourself?
A: I play the keyboard in my church band! That’s pretty fun.

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This story was published April 6, 2020.