From the desk of President Leslie K. Guice

Faculty Feature: Dr. Heath Tims, From Mechatronics to Marathons

Sep 23, 2013 | Faculty Feature

Heathtims_portraitWhether running a sprint or a marathon, it’s a good idea to have Heath Tims on your team.  I am certainly glad that he is on the Louisiana Tech team.  Heath established himself as a leader from the first day he stepped on the Tech campus as an undergraduate student in 1997.  I was new as the interim Dean of the College of Engineering and Science and he was part of a group of talented students who entered the very new Integrated Engineering Curriculum that year under the direction of Dr. Jim Nelson.  Heath provided strong leadership throughout his undergraduate career leading a number of college and departmental activities.  He even gained experience as a supplemental instructor of a freshmen course when he was a senior.  That experience was one of the things that led Heath to go to graduate school, choosing the demanding mechanical engineering program at the University of Texas at Austin where he received the M.S. and Ph.D. From 2001 until 2006 while in Austin, Heath worked with a strong research group in a research and prototyping facility at the University of Texas where he played a pivotal role in developing numerous prototypes for industrial companies. HeathEco1At Louisiana Tech, Heath teaches upper-level mechanical engineering courses including Computer Aided Modeling, which utilizes the software needed for prototyping and marketing, and Dynamic Systems and  Mechatronics, which involves mechanical and electrical component integration.  Heath has been heavily involved in instruction and curriculum design in collaboration with many colleagues inside and outside the College of Engineering and Science.  These successful education initiatives have not only had a large regional impact, but have garnered the support of several federal agencies. HeathEco2Heath received a grant from NASA to develop a high school physics curriculum which integrates engineering, mathematics, and physics concepts through hands-on projects. The NASA-Threads curriculum combines NASA applications, fundamentals, technology, and communication with projects that are facilitated by an inexpensive robotic platform.  Fundamentals are taught in this active classroom environment as projects unfold. The hands-on projects build excitement and foster the development of student confidence and creativity; they also develop student ability to solve realistic multiple-step problems.  This program has directly impacted 50 schools, 84 teachers and 3,900 students. In 2008, Heath and a multidisciplinary team of math, science, engineering, computer science, and liberal arts faculty developed the Cyber Discovery camp and a multi-disciplinary Studies in Cyberspace honors course.  The Cyber K12 efforts began at Tech and are now being expanded nationally with the help of the Department of Homeland Security and the Cyber Innovation Center.  Cyber Discovery is designed to expose high school students and their teachers to both the technical applications and social implications of cyber-related activities. K12 teachers attend professional development workshops throughout the year. The workshops help the teacher prepare for the week long residential camp during the summer that both the teachers and students attend. To date, Cyber Discovery has impacted more than 80 schools, 160 teachers and 475 students. HeathEcoHomePageHeath turned his passion for mechatronics, teaching, creativity, and competition into something that has brought a superb learning experience to our students, and tremendous national recognition to Louisiana Tech. Through his initiation and support of a student design and prototyping activity known as the Louisiana Tech Eco-marathon team, Heath has extended learning well beyond the normal classroom.  He uses the Eco-marathon as a hands-on project that serves as an apprenticeship model for mentoring students. This project has resulted in tremendous publicity for the College and University. It has also brought in a significant amount of financial support. The team has won multiple design awards for the aesthetics of the vehicles and has set North and South American fuel-economy records for gasoline and diesel urban vehicles.  The Louisiana Tech urban design team was recently featured in a full-page advertisement for Shell that was included in magazines and newspapers internationally. Last year, Shell developed a video to feature the outstanding work of Heath and the Tech Eco-marathon team. Take a look at the Shell Eco-Marathon, the Louisiana Tech story: The Long Road: Heath and fellow mechanical engineer Mike Swanbom also made an intriguing TEDx presentation on the Eco-marathon. Check out the TEDx Talk: Heath has been very active in service throughout the college, university, and the community. He currently served as the University Senate President and is a member of the Athletics Council. He has served on several college leadership and strategic planning teams as well as the faculty advisor for Tau Beta Pi (Engineering Honor Society) and Pi Tau Sigma (Mechanical Engineering Honor Society). Heath has received numerous Engineering and Science Foundation awards for Outstanding Service. The University Senate awarded Heath the Virgil Orr Junior Faculty Award in 2012 in recognition of his teaching, research, and service to Louisiana Tech. Heath Barbara and SonsHeath is a 3rd generation Bulldog. His grandmother and both parents (Paula & Larry) are Tech grads.  Heath and his wife Barbara met at Louisiana Tech and were very excited about the opportunity to come back to their alma mater after completing their graduate degrees from the University of Texas at Austin. Barbara earned her MS in Information Science and now works remotely as a Medical Librarian for the Texas Medical Association. Their children are Carter (6 years) and Graham (18 months). Heath Tims has made a big difference at Tech through his university-wide leadership, development of innovative programs, and active engagement with our students. And the students who have run a marathon with Heath will benefit greatly throughout their professional careers because of Heath’s passion for education.