Professor Sherwood graduated in 1960 from Purdue in Engineering Science, spent a year studying physics at the University of Padova, Italy, on a Fulbright, and received his PhD in 1967 from the University of Chicago working in the Telegdi group on experimental muon physics. He lectured in the "Feynman" course at Caltech 1966-1969 and was in the Users' Group headed by Tollestrup, doing particle experiments at Berkeley and SLAC. He was at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign from 1969 to 1985, where he helped develop the PLATO computer-based education system, especially its system software, and created a PLATO-based introductory mechanics course. He worked on multilingual text-to-speech research and taught a linguistics course, and was an adjunct professor of linguistics as well as professor of physics. From 1985 to 2002 at Carnegie Mellon he was a professor of physics and senior scientist in the Center for Innovation in Learning. He joined the NCSU physics department in 2002 as research professor and distinguished educator in residence.
He and Professor Ruth Chabay are co-authors of the ground-breaking introductory calculus-based physics textbook Matter & Interactions, which incorporates 20th -century physics throughout and emphasizes the reductionist nature of physics. He is known for innovative uses of computers in physics education, including creation of the cT programming language and participation in the development of the 3D programming environment Vpython, an open-source project for which he is the gatekeeper. His seminal writings on work and energy in classical mechanics are frequently cited.
Publications (the AJP articles are available at the Matter & Interactions web site)
Matter & Interactions. R. W. Chabay & B. A. Sherwood. New York: John Wiley & Sons (3rd edition, 2011).
"Tale of two curricula: The performance of 2000 students in introductory electromagnetism," Physical Review Special Topics – Physics Education Research 5, 020105 (2009). M. A. Kohlmyer, M. D. Caballero, R. Catrambone, R. W. Chabay, L. Ding, M. P.
"Computational physics in the introductory calculus-based course," American Journal of Physics, 76 (4&5). R. W. Chabay & B. A. Sherwood (2008) , p. 307-313.
"Restructuring the introductory electricity and magnetism course," American
Journal of Physics 74. R. W. Chabay & B. A. Sherwood.
(2006). p. 329-336.
"Modern Mechanics," American Journal of Physics 72. R. W. Chabay & B. A. Sherwood (2004). p. 439-445.
"Bringing atoms into first-year physics," American Journal of Physics 67. R. W. Chabay & B. A. Sherwood. (1999). p. 1045-1050.
Honors & Awards
Sherwood is a Fellow of the American Physical Society and of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and he is a member of the American Association of Physics Teachers. He and Chabay jointly received two major teaching awards at Carnegie Mellon, one at NCSU, and the AAPT's 2014 Halliday and Resnick Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Physics Teaching. He is fluent in Esperanto, Italian, and Spanish and has given technical presentations in all of these languages.