Valparaiso University is home to professors who not only love to teach, but love to learn. Committed to advancing his discipline, developing as an educator, and elevating the lives of the students he teaches, Shahin Nudehi, Ph.D., P.E., associate professor of mechanical engineering, is currently pursuing his master’s in electrical engineering at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Professor Nudehi joined the College of Engineering faculty nearly a decade ago, following a fulfilling industry job as a research scientist at AVL, where much of his work centered around circuit design. His responsibilities included leading a team in the development and design of the instruments General Motors used to test vehicle emissions. After five years at AVL, Professor Nudehi found his work to be routine and sought out academia as a means to utilize his Ph.D., further educate himself, and continue to evolve.
“When you’re in academia, you are fulfilled by educating people, you get to engage in research, and you have time to learn,” Professor Nudehi says. “I get to take a class at Wisconsin or work with my colleagues over the summer in a new area like electrochemistry. I’m continually learning and evolving, and I can translate these things to my students.”
Joining the College of Engineering faculty surprised many close to Professor Nudehi as it was his first foray into academia, and they were skeptical of his ability to engage in research at an undergraduate institution like Valpo. But, Valpo has surprised even Professor Nudehi with the amount of research that he and his faculty colleagues are immersed in, often collaborating with students on said research.
Since spring 2018, Timothy Zange ’19, who majors in mechanical engineering with an electrical engineering minor, has been working on a research project with Professor Nudehi involving a pryroheliometer, a device that measures direct solar irradiance. The pyroheliometer’s measurements can be used to explain performance of the University’s solar furnace, housed in the James S. Markiewicz Solar Energy Research Facility, and general solar irradiance for our region but must be pointed directly at the sun to take its measurements. Professor Nudehi and Timothy have developed a code to find where the sun will be relative to the device, and using that position, the data is sent to the micro-controller that transmits the data via WiFi to a server where data is analyzed. With the ultimate goal of permanently mounting the device outside, Timothy has assisted in making smaller, more robust housing for the device and on developing a code to remain connected to WiFi at all times.
“The College of Engineering professors, especially Professor Nudehi, are extremely involved in their students’ success, constantly helping us understand various engineering topics,” Timothy says. “Through the research projects Professor Nudehi has given me, as well being able to work alongside him, I have gained countless skills dealing with design, manufacturing, and programming and how they fit into the engineering process. With these skills and extra experience, I, like many other COE students, am going into the workforce with a huge advantage.”
Timothy assisted with the editing process as Professor Nudehi authored a paper on this research titled “Speed Control of Shunt-Wound DC Motors Using Switching Technique.” The paper was accepted for publication and Timothy presented it alongside Professor Nudehi at the ASME Dynamic Systems Control Conference in October.
Upon his arrival at Valpo, Professor Nudehi already had a bachelor’s degree, two master’s degrees, and a Ph.D. to his name. His doctoral degree is in mechanical engineering, and he has focused most of his teaching at Valpo on courses in the mechanical engineering department. However, recognizing that electric machines are the future of transportation, with most of the vehicles in the United States predicted to be run by electric machines by 2060, Professor Nudehi began to develop an interest in electric machines and a desire to extend his areas of expertise.
“To be effective to my students, I must be up-to-date and bring the latest knowledge to them. I have to be a learner too, or I’ll be obsolete,” Professor Nudehi says. “The responsibility is mine to ensure I am the best in the area I am teaching, so I can translate that to my students.”
Perhaps the biggest driver for Professor Nudehi in pursuing a third master’s degree is his students. With the apparent societal need for engineers with a background in electric machines and an existing void of faculty expertise within the College of Engineering, Professor Nudehi was determined to ensure his students were able to gain this important knowledge at Valpo. He’s already brought to Valpo many ideas he has learned from his classes and has developed and taught a course and laboratory in the electrical engineering department on electric motions and drives, which was met with much student interest.
Professor Nudehi expresses great gratitude to his colleagues, particularly Eric W. Johnson ’87, Ph.D., dean of the college of engineering and professor of electrical and computer engineering, for not only the opportunity to pursue further education, but for the extreme support and encouragement in doing so. But, it is Professor Nudehi’s students who are the most grateful. His continual growth and evolution not only inspires his students, it equips them with the knowledge and tools needed to contribute to society in meaningful ways.
“Progress in life is the ultimate goal. I seek to become better and better over time by gaining knowledge in different areas and becoming more diverse within those areas,” Professor Nudehi says. “I want to be my best so I can teach my students in a way that will be useful to their careers and to other human beings.”