The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus


Professor adds enthusiasm to technology

A student is waiting outside of Dr. William Gosney’s office. As he turns, it becomes clear he isn’t here for homework help. A strange contraption is strapped to his back, and he is clutching the attached gun-like trigger in one hand.

The contraption is straight from 1984 – not George Orwell’s book, but the Sci-Fi flick “Ghostbusters.” Thiago Nascimento, a concert piano major, constructed a replica of the proton pack and is waiting to show off his handiwork to his former modern electronic technology professor.

Gosney invites Nascimento into his office and marvels over the student’s ingenuity.

“All riiight!” said Gosney. “That’s fantastic!”

The two have just enough room to talk, crowded in by stacks of papers, tangled electrical cords and homemade projects.

The professor’s office is filled to capacity with presentation projects, everything from a stationary bike rigged with light bulbs to a homemade telescope with dog treat lids as end covers.

Gosney “needs an office three times that size and somebody to hold a gun to his head to keep him from bringing anything else in,” said his Administrative Secretary Dorothy Ramsey.

Before accepting an endowed chair in the Electronic Engineering Department in 1986, Gosney worked in the semi-conductor industry for 17 years, where he accrued the majority of his 14 patents. Gosney worked with Texas Instruments for eight years and then Mostek for nine years.

“If you’re an engineer it’s like being called. If you don’t have the talent for it no amount of work can overcome it,” said Gosney.

He is most proud of two patents he filed three decades ago. They were the precursors to today’s flash memory. The technology was first used in electronic TV tuners, which remember the voltages of channels so the TV can receive those channels.

“We didn’t know what we had,” said Gosney. “We were too busy working on other things.”

According to Gosney’s online description, the modern electronic technology class was created in the late ’80s in answer to former SEAS (School of Engineering and Applied Science) Dean Robert Fossum’s request to the engineering faculty to develop courses for liberal arts undergraduates.

Gosney’s teaching assistant Catalina Gonzalez said the class teaches students that electronic engineering applies to life outside the classroom.

“And it’s actually a fun class,” she said.

The first semester it was offered, 18 students signed up. Now he teaches about 350 students each semester, or about 20 percent of the undergraduate student body.

In his online statement, Gosney said he does not believe that his job is to fail a large number of students, but to teach as much as possible to each student during the time they are under his instruction.

He allows homework to be turned in late, for a nominal deduction, to allow major classes to take priority and gives open-book, open-note tests to ease students’ fears.

“Could I kill everybody on the first test?” asked Gosney, “Sure, but what would be the point?”

A big heart

The professor’s popularity can be attributed in part to his teaching philosophy, but people close to him say he cares about his students – all 350.

“He has a heart as big as the whole outdoors,” said Ramsey, who has worked with Gosney for 13 years.

Gosney has two daughters, Amber and Raven, with his wife, Mary Ann.

“We’re the Professor and Mary Ann,” said Gosney with a chuckle. “That probably wouldn’t be so funny if you hadn’t been here for the proton pack. I mean, what fantasy are we living?”

Amber, 29, is in her third year of law school at Tulane University in New Orleans. Last year during Hurricane Katrina, she went to school for one day and then the school shut down, said Gosney. She was able to get into University of Texas at Austin for the semester.

Raven, 24, moved to London a year ago and is taking a shoe design class at the London College of Fashion. She finished a Masters in Fine Arts at West Dean College.

“He has a lovely family,” said Ramsey. “They’re every bit as nice as he is.”

Legal eagle

In addition to teaching five sections of MET, Gosney does expert witness work in patent infringement cases related to technology.

“It’s damn difficult to put together a case and make it stick,” said Gosney.

Most recently, Matsushita – better known in the U.S. as Panasonic – sued Samsung for patent infringement, and Gosney was asked to be the defendant’s expert witness.

He breaks down complicated technology and jargon so a jury can understand the case.

In class, Gosney “just made electronics more understandable,” said Nascimento.

The professor is also thinking about creating a class similar to MET for EE majors, as he does not teach any major courses.

“But the question is: how much energy is left at the end of the day for me to go do that?” said Gosney.

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