October 21, 2002 Vol.73, no. 9F
Engineering alum becomes SMU prof before age 30
Cal engineering alum Paul Krueger liked college so much that he went back this time as a professor.
At 27, Krueger is the youngest
assistant professor in his engineering department at Southern Methodist
University in Dallas, Texas. In my department I am the youngest
by three years, though I am trying to catch up to the other professors,
Krueger got his undergraduate
degree in mechanical engineering from Berkeley in 1997, and then received
a Ph.D. from Cal Tech in 2001 in aeronautics.
So far he says he likes
teaching, but isnt a fan of grading assignments. Also, while he
enjoys interacting with his students, he admits it can be hard to keep
them engaged during an 8 a.m. class.
Krueger uses his youth to
relate to his students. I try to remember what it was like when
I took this class, but four to five years can really dull your memory,
Krueger also uses the ME
instructors he had at Cal as role models for his own teaching.
While he lauds all his professors,
Krueger did name several favorites. He fondly remembers ME professors
Benson Tongue, Patrick Pagni, Van Carey, and Dennis Lieu, who he called
a perennial favorite.
Krueger chose academia over
industry because he wanted more freedom to pursue his engineering interests.
At a small university like SMU, I can choose what to teach,
he says. The only constraint he feels in academia is getting funding.
While at Cal, Krueger was
involved with engineering honor society Tau Beta Pi and mechanical engineering
student society, Pi Tau Sigma.
Senior year he was president
of the student chapter of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers
(ASME). Krueger says he started the ASME student professor dinner while
he was at Cal, an event that now has two ASME officers dedicated to
Krueger says he misses being
a student at Cal, despite the deluge of work. He spent his first two
years in workaholic mode, but began to relax and managed
to have more fun as an upperclassman.
His advice to engineering
students (both as a professor and former student) is to have more fun
and to get to know professors better. Students can learn more from talking
to professors outside of class than burying themselves in their books,
It is important to study, but not to study too much. My regret is that I didnt realize that until my junior or senior year, says Krueger.