Faculty Spotlight: Dr. Daniel Johnson

Dr. Daniel Johnson
Dr. Daniel Johnson
Dr. Daniel Johnson

Faculty Spotlight: Dr. Daniel Johnson

As Kettering University Online’s (KUO) Program Development Manager, I have the pleasure of working with Contributing Faculty members. Coming from a wide range of educational, career, and geographical backgrounds, KUO faculty unite in the effort to link transformative experiential education to rigorous academic standards, with real-world applications for learning that lasts a lifetime.

This time, we are happy to shine the Faculty Spotlight on Dr. Daniel Johnson. Dr. Johnson teaches in our MS Engineering-ECE-Advanced Mobility program. This program is the first of its kind, equipping graduates with the technical expertise to play an integral role in the development of electric and autonomous vehicles, mobile robotics and other dynamic systems. This program is designed specifically to meet growing demands within the automotive and advanced mobility industry, and it focuses on systems essential to the future of transportation, such as:

  • Integration of electrical and computer systems for autonomous vehicles and other advanced mobility applications
  • Development of advanced mobility applications for electric, hybrid and autonomous vehicles, transportation systems, artificial intelligence and robotics as it applies to mobility
  • Design of dynamic systems that work to enhance and support autonomous functionality
  • Robotics enhanced by artificial intelligence

Following are excerpts from our conversation:

JL: Thank you so much for sitting down with me to chat!

DJ: My pleasure. Thanks for inviting me!

JL: The first question I typically ask is where did you grow up?

DJ: I grew up in Ann Arbor Michigan; my family has been here since 1981.

JL: Which degrees do you have and from where?

DJ: I received my B.S. from Washington University in St. Louis, and both my M.S. and Ph.D. from the University of Michigan. All three are in mechanical engineering.

JL: I’m always curious about why people choose their field of study. Why did you choose engineering?

DJ: I almost always knew I wanted to enter a technical field, either engineering or applied physics. I chose mechanical engineering in the end because it seemed to be the most flexible and it has let me research everything from medical devices to electric vehicles.

JL: In brief, what would you say is your teaching philosophy?

DJ: I focus on providing motivation and application. Motivation means the underlying reason why learners are asked to absorb a particular (sometimes arcane) bit of information; I like to provide a larger view of problems and the discipline as a whole that provides a "north star" for learners so they can see where we are going together. Application means putting any new information to immediate use in a meaningful way; this is why I love project-based classes, where learners must answer all of their own questions to complete an open-ended task given to them using the tools I help provide.

JL: You currently teach in the MS-ECE program. Can you talk a bit about what you see as the value of the program?

DJ: The classes in this program are valuable in providing some of the "motivation" I aim for when I teach. In these, learners are given a different perspective on their disciplines and how they affect others, including society at large. Sometimes, learners can forget that they really do have an immense amount of power due to their specialized knowledge, and that comes with a corresponding responsibility to others.

JL: Speaking of learners, what would you say about your Kettering students?

DJ: I would describe the learners I've encountered so far as amazingly multi-faceted. I have encountered learners from all types of engineering, with wildly diverse backgrounds, and at all stages of life. I am always surprised when I learn how much is going on in their lives on top of pursuing an advanced degree. It always impresses me.

JL: How will graduating from this program help Kettering students with their future careers?

DJ: Graduating from our program will not only indicate that these learners have advanced their technical prowess, but also that they've been exposed to and worked with a diverse group of fellow learners operating out in the "real world". Cultivating that ability to mesh and work together with people of all backgrounds is incredibly valuable in today's workplace.

JL: What are some of your favorite aspects of this program?

DJ: I would say my favorite aspect is still the direct conversations I have with learners, such as during office hours. I think it helps them realize that we instructors are indeed fellow human beings who do care about them as individuals, and I always appreciate hearing their unique stories.

JL: Speaking of office hours, what is the best advice a professor ever gave to you?

DJ: When someone asks me this, I always think back to a rather gruff, no-nonsense adjunct professor I had for a few classes during my undergraduate years. He said that all of the equations and methods that we were given during our training are like tools in our "mental toolbox", it's up to us as students to learn to use them correctly and well when we're out in the world. There is no perfect "tool" for a given problem, but choosing the right one(s) can save time and effort.

JL: Is there one interesting fact about you that you would like to share with us?

DJ: In order to maintain my sanity during my undergraduate years, which were spent immersed in engineering classes almost non-stop, I also double-majored in archaeology. I credit that program for making me cultivate my writing skills, which are absolutely required for graduate work and beyond (even in engineering). Plus, I can always volunteer to survey and excavate sites if I'm needed :)

KUO honors and appreciates Dr. Johnson for his contributions and highly regarded work with learners.

Welcome to Your Career in Advanced Mobility!

Kettering University Online’s MS Engineering-Electrical and Computer Engineering-Advanced Mobility is a groundbreaking program. This program, the first of its kind, is designed to prepare engineers to address the industry’s demand for professionals eager to work on projects in this new technological landscape.

If you are an engineer interested in electric vehicles, autonomous vehicles, mobile robotics, and artificial intelligence and in playing a leading role in re-shaping the automotive and/or robotics industry, enrolling in this program is your logical next step.

This degree, offered by Kettering University Online, is the only program custom designed to enable engineers to build on their expertise by focusing on the creation, testing, and integration of the dynamic systems that control mobility. By offering the definitive education for advanced mobility, Kettering University Online continues its proud tradition of working with partners in the automotive industry as well as combining experiential and applied learning to empower students to change the direction of their careers as well as the everyday experiences of everyone else!

If you are interested in becoming a student, visit Kettering University Online and connect with an Enrollment Advisor for information about our graduate degree programs.

If you are interested in becoming a member of our award-winning faculty, or a subject matter expert for course development, please send your curriculum vitae and cover letter to Dr. Christine Wallace at cwallace@kettering.edu

If you are interested in corporate, professional and/or continuing education opportunities through Kettering Global X, please consult our catalog at https://globalx.kettering.edu/pages/course-catalog-print