Sometimes, one takes a class that inherently sparks an interest a person.
Other times, this interest is cultivated through the efforts of a professor.
Did your professors do anything when they taught to stimulate your interest in a particular class or field? What qualities in a professor make for an engaging class?
For myself, I had a professor who was new to the university when I was a senior. He was in charge of one of our "Engineering Clinic" classes. These were courses designed to work on real-world projects.
My team was tasked with building an H&H model of a river system. Our professor was very communicative and readily admitted to not knowing the answers to all of our questions. However, he was very helpful as suggesting logical ways to build out our model and gave us a lot of autonomy in the way we did so.
It was nice to have a professor act like a real human who didn't have all of the answers, and his guidance style helped us to take ownership of our work. I took such an interest in his work that I went back for a masters with him as my advisor.
I tried to apply these same concepts as a fluid mechanics and water resources lab instructor when I went back for my masters. The first lab was in early September, so I decided to focus it outside and have students estimate the pressure inside different water guns, and measure and calculate the actual and expected distance that the water would travel. I made a mistake with one team and gave them a water gun with an oscillating barrel that swayed left and right as it released water. They were originally dismayed and concerned that they wouldn't be able to complete the lab. I worked with them to find a way to measure the water, and in my opinion, more importantly, write up the conditions and caveats to their results.
I tried to continue "keeping it real" with the students throughout the year, and focus on tangible experiments that would be applicable to the real world. If they asked a question and I didn't know the answer, I just admitted that I didn't know, and would later try to look it up. To a large extent, I believe it worked out, as the student feedback at the end of the year was very positive.
So for me, a very approachable professor and very hands-on labs were helpful in shaping my interest in water resources.
Does anyone else have a memory or experience from school that they would like to share?