Callahan’s selection was driven by Minakata’s extensive involvement in undergraduate research. In the last four years, Minakata has supervised nine undergraduate research assistants supported either through their own research fellowships or his research grants. His involvement starts with developing a research idea and extends through written paper and poster presentations.
Callahan says, “By encouraging and enabling undergraduate students to pursue research, Dr. Minakata is helping to develop a vibrant intellectual community among the students in the College.”
Minakata’s passion for connecting students to research and professional life extends into his teaching and serves as an inspiration for students there.
A current graduate student, with history as an undergraduate in the department, marked his enthusiasm, even in an 8 a.m. class: “Inside and outside of the classroom, Dr. Minakata is enthusiastic and willing to help students comprehend new course materials and provide advice on career paths. He is always available to his students on a personal and professional level.”
CEE Chair Audra Morse confirms Minakata’s passion for teaching and placed him in key roles at all levels within the department. Minakata teaches CEE5510, the only required graduate course in Environmental Engineering, where he is known to be rigorous and demanding, but highly respected.
At the same time, he is routinely invited to CEE1501, the first-year environmental engineering overview course. In the that course, Minakata invited students to see him if they are interested in undergraduate research within “the first two minutes of his talk.”
In the reflection assignment associated with that visit, one student confirmed that early research opportunities are “a big reason why kids go to Michigan Tech” and that Minakata’s talk was a moment where their “dreams came true.”
Perhaps Morse summarizes Minakata’s unique integration of teaching and research best when she says, “Dr. Minakata successfully demonstrates the benefits of integrating undergraduate students in research activities. More importantly, he inspires the next generation of passionate and curious environmental engineers.”
Minakata will be recognized at an end-of-term luncheon with other showcase members, and is now a candidate for the CTL Instructional Award Series (to be determined this summer) recognizing introductory or large class teaching, innovative or outside the classroom teaching methods, or work in curriculum and assessment.