Robert Shin honored for advancing project-based learning at MIT

      2014 Irwin Sizer Award recognizes Shin's leadership in establishing Beaver Works

Dr. Robert T-I. Shin, head of Lincoln Laboratory's Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR) and Tactical Systems Division and director of the MIT Lincoln Laboratory Beaver Works Center, received the 2014 Irwin Sizer Award for the Most Significant Improvement to MIT Education at the MIT Awards Convocation held on 8 May. This Institute Award is presented annually by MIT's Graduate Student Council to an individual or group to recognize "significant innovations and improvements to MIT education." Shin was honored for his vision and sustained effort in developing both the Beaver Works model of project-centric educational collaborations between MIT campus and Lincoln Laboratory and the center designed to facilitate those collaborations.

Bob Shin at Beaver WorksBob Shin, director of the Beaver Works Center, was honored with the 2014 Irwin Sizer Award for his efforts in opening this modern facility that has become integral to collaborative project-based learning at MIT.

"Bob Shin led the original study to define the Beaver Works concept, and he did an outstanding job. His creative approach and significant persistence were major factors in making Beaver Works a reality," says Eric D. Evans, director of Lincoln Laboratory. "I think that the strong collaboration among MIT faculty, students, and Lincoln Laboratory will generate remarkable results."

Beaver Works has already sparked some innovative work as MIT students and faculty have worked with Lincoln Laboratory engineers to design and build prototypes that solve real-world engineering challenges. Prior to the November 2013 opening of the Beaver Works center, faculty and students from the Aeronautics/Astronautics and Mechanical Engineering Departments had collaborated with Lincoln Laboratory engineers on a number of capstone projects, including the development of an unmanned aerial vehicle and the fabrication of a power supply for an autonomous undersea vehicle.

Just off the MIT campus, the Beaver Works Center, which is joint venture between the MIT School of Engineering and Lincoln Laboratory, provides spaces for activities ranging from brainstorming sessions, to classroom-type instruction, to hands-on construction of prototype systems. The facility was designed to support the Beaver Works philosophy that student engagement in collaborative, real-world-inspired projects promotes the understanding of complex engineering problems and fosters innovation.

"Bob has been a dedicated and energetic advocate for Beaver Works since its inception, and I'm delighted to see his efforts acknowledged with this award," says Ian A. Waitz, dean of the MIT School of Engineering. "His efforts have greatly expanded the collaborations between the Lincoln Laboratory and the MIT campus. He helped connect us at our strongest points—MIT's students, and Lincoln Laboratory's engineers—to create authentic, project-based learning opportunities for our students. In addition to being great educational opportunities, these interactions are providing creative solutions to significant engineering challenges."

According to Dr. Shin, the development of Beaver Works' educational initiatives and the dedicated center was, and continues to be, accomplished through teamwork. "I am honored to receive this award and must share the success of Beaver Works with the many people who helped realize the vision of a center dedicated to project-based learning and collaboration." says Shin. "Early on, Prof. John Hansman of the Aero/Astro Department and Kevin Cohen and Sam Stambler of the Laboratory were instrumental in initiating the capstone project that has evolved into a dynamic ongoing collaboration in developing unmanned aerial vehicles. Prof. Doug Hart's Engineering Systems Development courses within the Mechanical Engineering Department represent another very successful set of capstone projects. These courses, directed with Nick Pulsone of Lincoln Laboratory's Advanced Sensor Techniques Group, continue to build upon the power system for autonomous undersea vehicles that was designed by the 2012 class," notes Shin. "And, Beaver Works would not exist without the support of the leadership of MIT and Lincoln Laboratory, particularly Dean Waitz and Director Evans. So many faculty and staff were involved in both the educational activities and the renovation of the new site that I cannot name them all, but I do thank and appreciate everyone who worked on and is working with Beaver Works, and I look forward to many more innovative projects coming from the center."

Posted May 2014

top of page