Mark Urban-Lurain

Personal Information

I'm married; my wife's name is Jan. Many people wonder about the origins of my name. No, it's not French. It's a combination of our "maiden" names (I guess "master" is the closest masculine form). Jan was Urban; I was Lurain. If you wonder why did they do that? then it worked.

We don't have any kids, but do have two cats. Perhaps I'll waste some more bandwidth and get pics of the cats on line someday ...

How I got here...

I'm a Spartan through and through. I earned my Bachelor's, Master's and Ph.D. degrees from MSU and have worked here for longer than I should remember. In my previous lives, I was an audio engineer at WKAR Radio and then worked at MSU Television (WKAR-TV and Instructional Television.) My interest in audio grew from a love of music and the enjoyment of recording and listening to music. While I wasn't the "first kid on the block" to own a CD player, I believe I was the second.

Although I have been interested in computers since I was a kid, my initial exposure to them as an undergraduate was not particularly enticing: FORTRAN on punch cards in the bad old days.

I came back to computers during my Master's work, as a tool for statistical analysis and model building. At that time, I worked with the Computer Institute for Social Science Research exploring the use of computers for interactive psychometric inventories and models. During this time, I became interested in the social and psychological impacts of computers. PCs were just beginning to become available and the requirement for membership in the computing "priesthood" in order to use computers was falling by the wayside. Shortly thereafter, I joined the Computer Science Department at MSU.

After working with a wide variety of instructional technologies over the years, I decided that the impediments to the effective use of technology in education were not technical, but pedagogical.  This prompted me to become a student once again, earning my Ph.D. in Educational Psychology with a focus on cognition and technology.  I am particularly interested learner-centered uses of technology, building models of students' conceptual understanding, and using technology to individualize instruction.  These interests lead me to join the Division of Science and Mathematics Education where I worked with transdisciplinary teams of faculty and students on STEM education research. In 2011, I returned to the College of Engineering to extend my work in the Undergraduate Studies Office and the Center for Engineering Education Research. In 2016, I moved to the CREATE for STEM Institute.

Other interests

I also enjoy traveling, movies, carpentry, gardening and sports cars. I own a 2012 Ford Focus (basic transportation) and a 1976 Alfa Romeo Spider (invigorating Italian fun!)

  • The first rule of Italian driving: What's behind me is not important.

Franco (Raul Julia) in Gumball Rally as he rips the rear view mirror from its mount.