Karl Smith

Karl A. Smith

Cooperative Learning Professor (Part-Time)
Morse-Alumni Distinguished Teaching Professor and Emeritus Professor of Civil Engineering, University of Minnesota
Mailing Addresses
Office: ARMS 1313
Phone: (765) 494-9713


Ph.D., Educational Psychology, University of Minnesota
M.S., Metallurgical Engineering, Michigan Technological University
B.S., Metallurgical Engineering from Michigan Technological University

Awards, Honors, Achievements, & Memberships

  • National Research Council Discipline-Based Education Research Committee Member
  • Researcher of the Year Award, Democratic Citizenship in Education Special Interest Group, American Educational Research Association
  • Distinguished Service Award, Educational Research and Methods Division, American Society for Engineering Education
  • Distinguished Alumni Award, College of Education and Human Development, University of Minnesota
  • Chester F. Carlson Award for Innovation in Engineering Education, American Society for Engineering Education
  • Outstanding Contributions to Cooperative Learning Award, Cooperative Learning Special Interest Group, American Educational Research Association
  • American Society for Engineering Education, Fellow
  • Ronald J. Schmitz Award for outstanding continued service to engineering education through contributions to the Frontiers in Education Conference, ERM Division of ASEE and Education Society of IEEE

Advice for the First-Year Engineer

I'm a first generation college student and the first person in my family to graduate from college (Michigan Tech in 1969). I grew up in a small farming town and was quite intimidated by college. I had to work really hard but my experiences in learning have served me very well. I chose engineering because I worked for a construction company during high school and liked to build things, but found I liked chemistry more than physics so switched to metallurgical engineering. I loved many aspects of my educational experience and try to help others find joy and satisfaction in college.

I'm reluctant to provide advice since my first year in engineering school was over 40 years ago. However, I have worked with hundreds of students and so with some trepidation offer the following advice: Get to know yourself -- what do you love to do?, what do you really care about? Engineering is about making the world a better place and so if you want to make a difference in people's lives, engineering may be for you. Get to know other students. Many of us develop lifelong friendships during our student years and I hope you do too. Get to know faculty. Although faculty may not be your typical student, we did figure out how to navigate these complex programs and so may have some insights to offer. Also, we can be quite helpful when you need letters of recommendation. Most of all, enjoy the journey. You have the opportunity to get a great education in one of the best engineering schools in the world.

Fun Facts

I am an insatiable reader. I read every spare moment. My wife and I are ballroom dancers and have been taking ballroom dance lessons for about 20 years. I love to bicycle and spend as much time as I can on one of my many bicycles (bicycles are a fabulous technology!).