Mona Sheikh
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"Max Planck pointed out that each unit of new knowledge costs more than the last, because the easier answers come first and give us new techniques to apply to the next. So we are committed to asking more expensive questions that are also more difficult. Just as the progress of research creates expanding capital resource demands, it will require increased brainpower from the human resources who will pose the next questions and, eventually, answer them." - Science, 1 July 2005

Not every important technical tool or concept can be accommodated in a school's curricula. Many are critical to our careers and employment. We may each end up studying from the internet, books etc in an effort to learn topics that other students are equally interested in, or may have further expertise. Why not learn together, in a structured way? Why should subject matter have to be an entire semester long?

We face a competitive job market, we want to learn more, but we don't have all that much time. In an effort to combat this problem and facilitate bite-sized learning, I began a program of (mainly) engineering-themed "mini-courses": 1-2 day long courses on specialized technical topics.

This program is now governed by the new RCEL (Rice Center for Engineering Leadership); listed below are mini-courses that were offered at Rice, organized by the RCEL graduate advisory committee that I led.

Past Mini-courses:
Data Analysis in R [September 2010; by Garrett Grolemund (STAT)]
Microscopy Basics [August 2010; by Natnael Behabtu (CHBE), Ishi Talmon (Technion, Israel)]
Preparing for a Career in Academia [June 2010; by Edward Knightly (ECE)]
Improving Your Technical Presentation Skills [April 2010; by Tracy Volz (RCEL)]
Data Visualization [Feb 2010; by Hadley Wickham (STAT)]
LaTeX [Oct 2009; by Don Johnson (ECE)]
Wavelets [May 2009; by Sidney Burrus, Rich Baraniuk, Mike Orchard (ECE), Marina Vanucci (STAT)]

Anticipated Mini-courses:
Webpage Design
Mini-MBA Workshop: Introduction to Business for Engineers
Computational tools mini-course series: Python + Unix basics, Mathematica, MATLAB

The mini-course program is under the purview of the Rice Center for Engineering Leadership , with additional support from the Dean of Engineering's Office, and a 2009 Envision Grant from Leadership Rice at the Center for Civic Engagement. Thanks go to the ECE department for helping with initial logistics.