Profile: Mara Broering on teaching and the student experience

Headshot of Dr. Mara BroeringProfessor Mara Broering bridges the gap between student and faculty. Moving here from Northern Kentucky to attend the JB Speed School, Broering graduated with a master’s in Mechanical Engineering before accepting a job in the department of Engineering Fundamentals. She gravitated towards Mechanical Engineering as an area that she sees as having broad applications.

“What I kind of liked about Mechanical is that it sort of touched on everything. I imagined mechanical as kind of the backbone of engineering. You usually are learning a little bit about each of those areas,” says Broering.

Prior to teaching, Broering’s research focused on computational fluid dynamics, a simulation dedicated to the changing nature of fluid. Since taking on her position with Engineering Fundamentals, she has refocused her energies to pedagogical studies.

She explains, “I’m not currently researching. I study the science of learning. I’ve been taking some seminars into the science of education. I’m happy with that. I’m perfectly happy to just teach.”

Broering applies her experiences in the classroom, working to educate incoming students while remaining sensitive to the rigors of the course work.

“That’s one reason that I like teaching math is trying to break down those concepts in ways that students would understand them. I had professors that forgot how to introduce a topic at that level,” she says adding, “That’s why I like doing collaborative work. Because they’re just learning the material, they have a little bit more a fresh perspective on it.”

She remembers what it was like to walk into the class for the first time, and the balance between work and life that students, often fresh into adulthood, are learning to maneuver.

“I try to keep in mind what it was like when I was a student. They have other things vying for their time and attention. While I can’t necessarily empathize with the struggle, because I didn’t have the same difficulty, I empathize with the workload. And I remember what it was like for my classmates. This stuff isn’t easy. I try to remind students that it’s not the end of the world. It doesn’t mean you’re dumb. It doesn’t mean that you couldn’t,” she says.

In her free time, Broering splitting her time between two primary interests. She explains that she, “plays video games. My other big hobby is photography. If I go on trips, I take my camera with me. That means that I like going to places with good views. I like going to the zoo. I like going to the park. That kind of thing. I’ve gone to the Thunder Show. I’ve done some of the fireworks too. Go to events. Something that I think that would be fun.”