College of Engineering Dean Wayne Pennington has chosen to recognize Materials Science and Engineering (MSE) Associate Professor Yongmei Jin as this week’s Deans’ Teaching Showcase member.
MSE Chair Steve Kampe nominated Jin because of her unique ability to help students through courses that provide obstacles for many students. Kampe explains, “Yongmei teaches some of our more math-intensive courses within the MSE curriculum, and does so in a way that eliminates anxiety and the mental blocks that this typically presents for certain students.”
Jin provides exceptional teaching at all levels in the MSE curriculum. At the sophomore level, she is lead instructor (team-taught by three faculty) in Intro to MSE. In this course, she teaches a mathematical description of crystallography – content that typically does not appear in undergraduate materials curricula. Part of the motivation is to use this materials-based application to improve general math skills for students, and to support a curriculum thread in computational materials science skills.
Jin also teaches upper-division courses like Materials Processing II, where concepts of transport phenomena (heat, fluid, mass) involving calculus and differential equations are introduced, practiced, and solutions made routine. Graduating seniors often identify Jin as one of the most effective instructors in the department during exit interviews with the chair.
Finally, she teaches a graduate level core (required) course in material properties where students learn how to mathematical describe properties that obey tensor mathematics. Kampe summarizes by saying, “Yongmei quietly and adeptly leads the instruction of these several critical courses in a way that is effective for student learning and success. Students describe her classroom as enabling and a confidence-building experience.”
Pennington, for his part, emphasizes that he chose Jin because he sees a tremendous need for instructors to get the level right with regard to mathematics. “We frequently hear that students are frustrated by not understanding how mathematics is incorporated into their specific discipline—this often comes about because instructors find it difficult to use higher math in their lectures without confusing or alienating students. Not so in Dr Yongmei Jin’s classes, thank goodness. She is known for incorporating math in the classroom in ways that make it straightforward for students to see the connections without getting lost in the details, and to have confidence in their ability to master and make use of the math required in their field. We all have something to learn from her approach.”
Jin will be recognized at an end-of-term luncheon with other showcase members, and is now eligible for one of three new teaching awards to be given by the William G. Jackson Center for Teaching and Learning this summer, recognizing introductory or large class teaching, innovative or outside the classroom teaching methods, or work in curriculum and assessment.
By Michael R. Meyer Director – William G. Jackson Center for Teaching and Learning.