Yu Zou is an expert in energy, and at first the big city China native was unsure what would spark up his interest at a campus surrounded by suburban neighborhoods and rural farmland.
A year into his career as an SVSU assistant professor of electrical & computer engineering, Zou said he’s discovered all the energy he needs to power forward right here in mid-Michigan.
“This is something new to me,” Zou said of his new home and lifestyle. “I think I like this way better.”
Zou—who spent all but five years of his life in the hustle and bustle of Tianjin, not far from Beijing—was concerned that the lifestyle waiting in America’s Midwest wouldn’t suit his interest.
“I was a little bit worried about a boring life with not a lot of people around,” he said.
Instead, after a 5-year stay in Akron and one year living in Saginaw Township, Zou has discovered the relatively quiet surroundings coupled with an engaging campus life has offered him all the inspiration he needs.
“I found it is very good to have this kind of life,” Zou said. “This makes me expect to have a long-term commitment to this area, this school and career.”
Zou said he has felt welcomed at SVSU since arriving in fall 2012.
“Everything is very close, and my request of help can be answered very fast and very productively,” he said.
He said the electrical engineering students are engaged in classrooms and make teaching the topic easy.
Zou said his teaching style emphasizes understanding “how to think” about the subject rather than simply learning the subject matter well enough to score high on exams.
To help students make such a connection, Zou endorses an old school method of teaching—with chalk. He has pieces of the powdery writing utensil stored in a classroom bag, ready to write on the few chalkboards still available in classrooms.
“It helps the students to follow along,” he said. “After class, a lot of students who followed along might realize, ‘I didn’t write down anything to review.’ This gives them the chance.”
So far, the method has earned him positive reviews and appreciation from his pupils, Zou said.
As for his life away from the classroom, Zou is anxious to go hiking soon. He’s heard of attractive outdoor sites in northern Michigan, but has yet to venture outside the comforts of his new mid-Michigan home to look for what all the fuss is about.
“I’m looking forward to it,” he said. “I’m looking forward to many things.”