In over 30 years of teaching, Dr. Raghu Echempati, professor of Mechanical Engineering at Kettering University, has never taken a term off. Instead he’s used his non-teaching terms at Kettering to teach abroad mostly in Germany at HTWG-Konstanz, and at other schools.
This ritual continued in 2016 when Echempati was one of the select few awarded to be an Erskine Visiting Fellow at the University of Canterbury (UC) in Christchurch, New Zealand.
“I never take a term off,” Echempati said. “I’ve been teaching continuously for 30 years. Going to another country to teach is my relaxation.”
At Canterbury, Echempati was invited to teach a class on finite element analysis, one of his areas of expertise along with statics and mechanics of materials, machine component design, dynamics and vibrations, computer aided engineering, mechanism design and metal forming simulation. He was in New Zealand from February to June 2016 which afforded him the opportunity to help with the UC Formula Team.
“Their Formula team was doing lots of complex simulations,” Echempati said. “They had a lot of questions about that so I had an opportunity to help. Their team is pretty good. They travel to Australia, throughout New Zealand the United States for competitions.”
UC offers study abroad programs for undergraduate students that are flexible to match with quarter or semester academic calendars.
A plethora of international teaching experience and the ability to instruct on the practical applications of theory were a couple of the reasons Echempati was selected by Canterbury.
“Their students work very hard just like our students but our students have some exposure to industry through co-op,” Echempati said. “In New Zealand, I was teaching in a practical way. They were able to understand and apply the practical aspects of the materials.”
Echempati started his career in the Mechanical Engineering department at Kettering in 1997. He began teaching internationally in 2000 when he was invited to teach at FH-Wiesbaden in Germany. His initial visit laid the foundation for Kettering’s current Mechanical Engineering study abroad programs and offerings.
Echempati taught in Germany over 10 times from 2000 to 2012. In 2013 and 2015, he taught at Indian Institute of Technology Gandhinagar in Ahmedabad, at King Mongkut's University of Technology Thonburi in Thailand, and recently at Indian Institute of Technology Jodhpur in India before traveling to New Zealand in 2016. Echempati has also received two Fulbright awards and regularly serves on their selection panels.
“I’ve been exposed to a variety of students and their way of learning,” Echempati said. “Each person is different. Each country is different. In my career, I got exposed to different ways of teaching which has helped me reach my fullest potential as a teacher.”