1. Paul Bierbauer

Paul Bierbauer

Senior Professor

DeVry University Chicago

Teaching Field: Electronics & Computer Technology

"Many students that come to DeVry would not feel comfortable in a traditional four year college. We are committed to helping you succeed, not weeding you out."

Where I come from

I'm a very hands-on person. At age two my first toy was a screwdriver. I used it to take an outlet apart with the power on. Surviving that, I went on to be a bench technician for Tandy and an electrical design engineer at Motorola and to work in the Special Products - Base Stations Group of the Fixed Products division at Motorola. My industry experience provides me with a unique view from "both sides of the fence," from the theoretical perspective as well as the hands-on application.

I have been teaching at DeVry University for 37 years now. I teach full time and consult occasionally. Electrical Engineering is my focus. My primary area of specialization is electronic communication systems; I am under contract with Prentice-Hall to write a series of texts in this area.

A different kind of workbench

Curriculum development - designing courses and programs to meet specific objectives - is the teacher's workbench. I have worked with many employers to determine how academia can best meet the needs of industry and to develop a national curriculum in Electrical Engineering for DeVry University. This is a process that I have been intimately involved with for many years. I have developed courses, the curriculum guides, eCollege shells, lab experiments, etc. Most recently I developed our ECT263 (Fundamentals of Communications) course.

In addition, I represent DeVry University in the Global Wireless Education Consortium. In the 2004/05 year I was named Wireless Educator of the Year by GWEC. I am very proud of that as well as the three Ron Taylor Awards I have received from DeVry University for outstanding contributions to quality services for students.

A word to the wise

As part of my duties with GWEC, I attended a presentation at Lucent Technologies. I never miss a chance to ask employers,"What do you think my students need to know the very week they go to work for you in order to be successful?" This time, one of the Lucent presenters said, "Professor, teach your students how to learn."

Learning is lifelong. Technology has a half-life of about six months these days. Thirty years ago, if I'd asked that question, they would have said something like, "Teach them to calibrate an oscilloscope." Back then, a DeVry University graduate might have trained as a repair tech, and done the same job for decades. It's a different world. Nowadays a typical DeVry University graduate works for a Fortune 500 corporation, serves on committees, writes reports and gives presentations, and trains people. Technician is still an entry level position, but if you learn how to learn, you can advance to being a team leader, a manager, a VP.

How I teach

So that's my aim: to teach you how to learn. We go online in every class. I use computer projection to show various documents and illustrations - circuit diagrams, wave forms, pictures of equipment, even actual machine interfaces that we sign on to over the Internet. If we are talking about design specs, we download data sheets from vendor web sites. I post articles from the newspaper and discuss them with my students. Before a company spends hundreds of millions of dollars to launch a new technology, they are going to talk about it.

A great place to learn

DeVry University compares very favorably to my vision for the ideal teaching/learning environment. We have small classes, even in beginning terms; my classes last semester averaged 15.6 students. We take a hands-on approach. Students can reach us easily outside of class. For example, in addition to my listed office hours, I give students my home office phone number and personal e-mail address. I check my e-mail every couple of hours and try to respond immediately.

Friends in the right places

I have been a close ally to my campus' Career Center for many years. The Director is a close personal friend. The Electronics Career Advisor is our past Electronics Department Secretary (a DeVry University grad herself) who is also a close friend. I work daily with these people to make sure that students (most of mine are in their last semester) are getting done what they need to get done. We also conduct mock interviews.

What sets DeVry University apart

Many students that come to DeVry University would not feel comfortable in a traditional four year college. We are committed to helping you succeed, not weeding you out. Also as an institution, DeVry University is more humble and pragmatic than some of our peers. We don't try to dictate to the market place. We constantly ask employers, "What skills and attributes do you want in your new hires?" We listen very carefully to their feedback. We redesign our curriculum from the ground-up every five or six years to keep up to date. As a result, many employers who have hired DeVry University students come back for more.

Why DeVry?

If you are the kind of person who wants to just "dive right in and do it," you'll fit in at DeVry University. You can earn a four year degree in three years, and a two year degree in a year and a half. Bear in mind that many companies you are likely to work for will have a tuition reimbursement program so with a two year degree, you could be earning money while you finish your bachelor's degree.

Last but not least, we do a darn good job and I think anybody would agree with me.