Geoff Recktenwald, Adams Fellows

Geoff Recktenwald, 2018-19 Adams Fellows

Geoff Recktenwald is a teacher, problem solver, engineer, hockey enthusiast, parent, husband, and community leader. He believes that he has a lot to learn and a lot to share. Recktenwald enjoys dialog and engagement on ideas because it sharpens nebulous notions into tangible tools.

Recktenwald received his Ph.D. in Theoretical and Applied Mechanics from Cornell University. His area of expertise is developing new and innovative methods for solving problems.Recktenwald has been teaching in various contexts for more than 10 years. Recktenwald taught engineering mathematics and engineering design at Cornell and a broad range of engineering mechanics courses at Michigan State University. He has worked as a downhill ski instructor, led community discussions on politics and religion, and taught his kids how to approach numbers and problem-solving.

Recktenwald enjoys interacting with engineering students because they tend to be hard workers, innovative problem solvers, and engaging students. These students will be responsible for producing the products, infrastructure, and technology that will be enjoyed for years to come. This is a great responsibility for teachers in a world that is changing so fast. It means that the tools they develop and the process they use is way more important than the technical content.Recktenwald believes he is training people who will be able to encounter something totally new and know what to do. That is an exciting challenge.

This challenge is even more difficult as the culture and technology pushes young people to be speedy information parsers rather than thoughtful information critics.

When asked what he does, Recktenwald replies, “I teach engineering courses on how things move and how things break.” But when talking with his own students, he tells them, “I’m here to teach you how to solve problems that no one has ever faced. Moving and breaking things is just a fun way to get there”.