Tag: Teaching Showcase

Dean’s Teaching Showcase blog articles.

Deans’ Teaching Showcase: Rebecca Ong

Rebecca Ong
Rebecca Ong

Janet Callahan , Dean of the College of Engineering, has selected our eighth Deans’ Teaching Showcase member: Rebecca Ong, assistant professor in the Chemical Engineering department.

Ong was selected upon recommendation by Chemical Engineering Department Chair Pradeep Agrawal for her broad innovation and use of creative teaching tools. Agrawal emphasized Ong’s efforts to “adapt to students’ contemporary learning preferences by using short videos, instant feedback, on-line quizzes, and a design expo with active learning tools like think-pair-share, iclickers, and role playing.” Agrawal also pointed out Ong’s use of a “spiral” technique where specific concepts are revisited through spaced practice, and her efforts to “connect the dots” with topics from previous classes, including statistics and data handling, computational tools, technical communications and global issues.

Ong confirms that she makes repetition —and variation—a priority. In her words, “Repetition of material is key for retention. Even with the clearest instruction, few people will completely understand a new problem the first time that they encounter it. Students need to be exposed to important points multiple times, and in different ways.” She starts each class with retrieval practice, and she attempts to bring content back with “increasingly large gaps between the reinforcement” as her quizzes often cover a mix of new and old content.

Her work to embed skills in the discipline comes from her sense that things are “most engaging and best learned when linked to a context students care about.” One excellent example of this is a recent project where students had to conduct an environmental impact assessment regarding the overseas construction of a chemical plant. She elaborates, “Students had to interview someone from another country or with many years experience living in another country to give a local community member’s perspective on the proposed construction of the facility in their hometown.” Student feedback about this project indicates that students change their analysis from whether a plant was technically feasible to consider whether it should be built, considering the environmental and social aspects.

But perhaps the biggest reason for Ong’s selection was her affinity for trying new things in her teaching. Again, her own words say it best: “I like to try new things all the time, whether teaching styles, new activities, new assignment styles, new technology or tools in the classroom. Sometimes these work well and sometimes they don’t. I always tell the students when I’m experimenting and try to get feedback about specific things I’m trying for the first time.” One recent example was creating video interviews of other on-campus faculty to use as “guest-lecturers” in a course because scheduling them live was impractical.

Callahan summarizes her nomination by saying “Rebecca’s philosophy of meeting students where they are at intellectually keeps students engaged with the material and really improves their learning. It is impressive that Dr. Ong keeps trying new things in her classes, trying to keep them fun for the students while figuring out the best way for students to learn the material.”

Ong will be recognized at an end-of-term luncheon with other showcase members, and is also 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.

Deans’ Teaching Showcase: Aneet Narendranath

Aneet Narendranath
Aneet Narendranath

Janet Callahan, dean of the College of Engineering, has selected our fifth Deans’ Teaching Showcase member—Aneet Narendranath, senior lecturer in the Mechanical Engineering – Engineering Mechanics department.

Narendranath received his PhD in mechanical engineering from Michigan Tech in 2013. Prior to starting as a lecturer at Michigan Tech in 2015, he worked on a research problem as part of a one-year professional development opportunity through a collaboration with the French Nuclear Commission as an Engineer-II.

Since his return to Tech, Narendranath has built a reputation as a creative and inspiring teacher. He is passionate about exposing his students to the latest advances in research in the courses he teaches. His efforts have resonated with the students, as evidenced by his selection as a finalist for the ME Teacher of the Year award for the past two years.

This selection is especially notable considering that he’s been asked to teach a wide variety of courses from sophomore to graduate-level. Narendranath has taught statics, thermodynamics, mechanics of materials, heat transfer, ME Practice 2 and 3, finite element methods, computational fluids engineering, advanced fluid mechanics, and has served as a senior design project advisor.

Callahan selected Narendranath, however, for his “work on integrating big data into the mechanical engineering curriculum and his eagerness to share his teaching innovations by regularly publishing at conferences.” In the fall of 2018, the ME-EM department started a curriculum innovation to determine the knowledge and critical skills for the ME undergraduate and graduate curriculum of big data, machine learning, and artificial intelligence for our students to use in the solution of engineering design problems. This 3-year effort includes choosing topics and determining courses, and Narendranath immediately took the challenge.

As he implements these curricular innovations, Aneet has begun publishing and presenting them in premier engineering education journals and conferences. He made presentations at the national ASEE conferences in 2016 and 2017 with another pending review in 2020, and has publications pending in 2020 with IEEE and the International Journal of Mechanical Engineering Education.

Narendranath has also innovated and published in his long standing role as the coordinator of the ME-EM Engineering Learning Center (ELC). Here, he designed, wrote the source code, and implemented a Raspberry Pi-based Learning Center usage tracking system for optimal resource allocation. The system uses data gathered from the operation of the ELC to show trends in usage, which can be used to indicate which courses are using the centermost frequently, enabling the ELC to arrange for cost effective staffing. This work was published in IEEE Frontiers in Education in 2018.

William Predebon, Narendranath’s chair, summarizes by saying “Narendranath has a passion for learning, and that passion comes through in his teaching. He is a thoughtful and dynamic instructor with groundbreaking and inspirational ideas that serve to enhance the educational experience of the students in his classes.”

Narendranath will be recognized at an end-of-term luncheon with other showcase members, and is also 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.

Deans’ Teaching Showcase: Tim Schulz

Tim Schulz
Tim Schulz

College of Engineering Dean Janet Callahan has selected Tim Schulz (ECE) as the final member of the 2019 Deans’ Teaching Showcase. As a teacher he is widely acknowledged as one of the ECE departments best, with his friendly, humorous style and his devotion to his students’ learning. But Schulz’s selection here is, according to Associate Dean Leonard Bohmann for his “leadership in using technology to deliver technical material in electrical and computer engineering.”

Starting in 2012, Schulz created a series of 10 to 15 minute videos collectively titled “Electric Circuits” and posted them on YouTube. Though he created them with his EE2111 (Electric Circuits 1) class in mind, they are reaching a much wider audience. In fact, one titled “Introduction to Thevenin Equivalent Circuits” has gotten more than 152,000 views.

Since that time, Schulz has also developed a phone app of randomized electric circuit problems to use in this course. He develops these aids so students can develop a mastery of the course material. As one student noted, “The videos and the infinite practice problems were the most helpful. As much as I hate to say this, the quizzes were also helpful.”

In his courses, Schulz develops from scratch his own interactive web-based approach to homework sets and quizzes, taking full advantage of the capabilities of Canvas and writing his own scripts for generating homework problems with randomized parameters. His colleagues recognize this, and some have adopted Schulz’s materials when they teach the same classes.

Most recently, Schulz has taken the lead in developing new courses for the online MSEE program with a focus on communications and signal processing, in partnership with Keypath Education, Inc. He developed and is teaching for the second time, EE5300, Mathematical and Computational Methods in Engineering, which is the entry point into the program.

His course engages students through a series of interactive MATLAB computational exercises which meet modern standards for online course delivery and are breaking new ground for the ECE Department.

Students find this approach to be very helpful. One said, “The canvas structure paired with the lecture truly was a great combination. The prep work must have been substantial but was well worth it.”

Another provides even broader praise of both Schulz and the course by saying, “The course is excellent and engaging. Overall, I think this class is a must for any student wishing to have a solid starting foundation in graduate studies in engineering. Dr. Schulz is an outstanding professor with extensive research and professional experience and I would totally recommend students to take this class.”

Schulz is currently developing the third course for the online MSEE program, EE5500 Probability and Stochastic Processes, which will be taught for the first time this summer. He agrees that developing an online course is much more rigorous then teaching face-to-face, saying “You need to do more planning of how to approach a topic. You don’t have the ease of correcting an approach (or even an equation) in real time, so it is a much more deliberate process.”

However, this higher level of rigor is a challenge he enjoys; he’s already signed on to develop his next course, EE5521 Detection and Estimation Theory, which will be offered online for the first time sometime in 2020-2021 academic year.

Callahan emphasizes that it’s really about the technology enabling better learning. In her words, “Tim Schulz’s effective use of technology shows that student learning and satisfaction can both increase with the use of modern tools.”

Schulz will be recognized at an end-of-term luncheon with other showcase members and is now elgible 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.

Deans’ Teaching Showcase: Faith Morrison

Faith Morrison
Faith Morrison

This week, the Deans’ Teaching Showcase returns to the College of Engineering where Dean Janet Callahan has selected Faith Morrison, professor of chemical engineering and associate dean.

Callahan chose Morrison not only for her excellent and innovative teaching, but also for extensive historical involvement in academic advising and planning for assessment, especially for Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology, Inc. (ABET).

Callahan’s words, “Professor Morrison has been focused on improving the Chemical Engineering undergraduate program throughout her career. She has been heavily involved in academic advising, assessment activities, and implementing new pedagogy to enrich her students’ learning experience. Dr. Morrison’s continuous drive to improve student learning is an inspiration to us all.”

In his nominating letter, Chemical Engineering Chair Pradeep Agrawal focused mostly on Morrison’s unique and deeply-considered teaching philosophy. He especially emphasized her willingness to continually be “flexible in developing her teaching approach to match the learning style of a younger generation.”

One such contribution that has clearly been well received is a series of YouTube videos published by Morrison on rheology and momentum transport, several of which have more than 100,000 views.

Morrison believes her fundamental purpose is to teach students how to learn, and that keeping them active in the classroom is important to this end. In her words, she gives students a chance to “attempt solutions and see how their ideas work—I allow them to lead the problem‐solving, since I believe they benefit from following where their ideas lead.”

This does not mean she allows them complete freedom. Morrison carefully chooses activities and scaffolds discussions, taking “great care to identify and organize classroom topics and to keep the conversation going.”

Agrawal also emphasized this active and carefully customized approach, which Morrison applies even in larger classes. “Faith finds ways to engage students regardless of the class size. Her approach encourages all students to achieve a minimum level of proficiency in order to pass her course, but she also provides “stretch” assignments to students aspiring to earn top grades. These “stretch” assignments are harder problems, designed to challenge the top performing students. Her unorthodox approach allows the students to work at a level commensurate with their aspirations, but also ensures a minimum level of preparedness of the subject matter. ”

Finally, Morrison was selected because, according to Agrawal, she “earns the respect of her students, in spite of maintaining a rigorous work load and standards.” Faith carefully balances the ability to “meet students where they are” and setting a high—but still appropriate—level of challenge. In her words, she has “found that when I set expectations where I need them to be, the students are able to rise to the occasion.”

Morrison 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.

Deans’ Teaching Showcase: Daisuke Minakata

Daisuke Minakat
Daisuke Minakata

Daisuke Minakata, (CEE), has been selected by College of Engineering Dean Janet Callahan as her second showcase member for spring semester 2019.

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.

Dean’s Teaching Showcase: Paul VanSusante

Paul van Susante
Paul van Susante

Each spring semester the William G. Jackson Center for Teaching and Learning works to recognize and reward contributions to teaching that may not be noticed or appreciated by students through the Deans’ Teaching Showcase.

Each Friday, the six academic Deans; Janet Callahan (CoE), Adrienne Minerick (SoT), David Hemmer (CSA), Dean Johnson (SBE), Lorelle Meadows (Pavlis Honors College) and Andrew Storer (SFRES) will take turns recognizing a total of 13 Michigan Tech instructors who have revised curriculum, created new courses and programs, assessed student work, helped meet accreditation requirements or provided exceptional instruction that’s innovative or foundational.

College of Engineering Dean Janet Callahan provides our first Deans’ Teaching Showcase member for spring 2019: Paul VanSusante, senior lecturer in the Mechanical Engineering – Engineering Mechanics (ME-EM) Department. She chose VanSusante, simply because he has “worked hard to develop and use active learning strategies in his classes, and his students have benefited greatly. His dedication to his student’s learning is an inspiration to us all.”

Callahan’s choice to recognize VanSusante spans several criteria; he has contributed significantly to curriculum development, but also provides innovative teaching in a foundational context. According to Bill Predebon, ME-EM chair, VanSusante has been “instrumental in the development and coordination of Mechanical Engineering Practice 1 (MEP 1) in our newly revised ME curriculum. In MEP 1 Paul included reverse engineering, in which they take apart a consumer product or toy, go to the internet for buyers’ comments, take it apart, redesign it based on comments with the manufacturing process in mind.”

But as Callahan noted, VanSusante’s exceptional contributions don’t stop at curriculum development. Predebon continues: “Paul is also an innovative teacher. He really cares about student learning. His teaching style uses active learning and includes practical insight from his experience and research. He pushes his students to go beyond what is the topic of the day. He has them work in teams whenever possible, so that they can learn from each other. Everyone’s input is important and valued, no matter what their background.”

As part of the nomination, Associate Dean of Engineering Leonard Bohmann also highlighted VanSusante’s innovative teaching in his extensive involvement with MINE (the Mining Innovation Enterprise). According to Bohmann, VanSusante’s work there includes an “out of this world” NASA project that involves the extraction of water from gypsum on Mars.

VanSusante will be recognized at an end-of-term luncheon with other showcase members and is now a candidate for the CTL Instructional Award Presentation Series (to be determined this summer) which further recognizes introductory or large class teaching, innovative or outside the classroom teaching methods and work in curriculum and assessment.

Dean’s Teaching Showcase: Tony Rogers

Tony Rogers
Tony Rogers

Our second-to-last Deans’ Teaching Showcase member for this spring is Tony Rogers, associate professor in Chemical Engineering and co-advisor of the Consumer Product Manufacturing Enterprise.

He was nominated by Chair Pradeep Agrawal and selected by College of Engineering Dean Wayne Pennington for his long and excellent history of teaching in three “real-world” aspects of the chemical engineering undergraduate curriculum: Enterprise, the Unit Operations Lab and the Capstone Design course.

Rogers has taught the capstone plant design course (Process Analysis & Design) for senior-year students since 1993. He draws on his industrial design experience at Research Triangle Institute (RTI, Durham, North Carolina) working under contract for industrial clients.

Agrawal comments on Rogers’ unique focus within this course, saying “While safety and environmental constraints are critical to chemical process design, all project investments are based on economic considerations. Professor Rogers sees to it that chemical engineering students graduate with this important perspective and speak the language of cash-flow analyses and profitability. Economics is the deciding factor when choosing between competing technical options.”

Rogers has also been advising Consumer Product Manufacturing (CPM) since the Enterprise program first began in 2000. His goal in this role is to give students further industry insight through internship-like experience with corporate sponsors during the regular academic semester. Rogers observes, “It is a fun challenge in all of my courses to keep the students engaged in an era of advancing computer technology and entertainment. The trick is to realize that there are no short-cuts for the hard work of mastering engineering concepts. I try to contribute to my department’s goal of turning out industry-ready graduates who are ready to work.”

Pennington himself echoes this same practical, balanced focus in summarizing his selection, but emphasizes Rogers’ work in a third area—the Unit Operations lab. In Pennington’s words, “Every visitor to the Chemical Engineering Department comes away impressed with the Unit Operations lab and the hands-on training that our students receive, in addition to the usual formal education in the discipline. This relationship to the ‘real world’ of industrial (or research) chemical engineering practice has been largely driven by the initiatives and perseverance of Dr. Tony Rogers over the years. His combination of practical considerations, including safety, environment and economics, with the goal of production on a schedule and within specifications, is unique among undergraduate educational practices. Tony helps make Michigan Tech the respected institution that it is.”

Rogers’ long and successful history will be recognized at an end-of-term luncheon with other showcase members. He 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.

Dean’s Teaching Showcase: Yongmei Jin

Yongmei M. Jin
Yongmei M. Jin

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.

Dean’s Teaching Showcase: Chad Deering and Bob Barron

Robert Barron
Robert Barron

Chad Deering
Chad Deering

This week’s Dean’s Teaching Showcase selection, made by Dean Wayne Pennington of the College of Engineering, is a unique teaching partnership. Assistant Professor Chad Deering and Lab Manager Bob Barron were selected for “deftly leading our students for the past three summers” through the field course in the Department of Geological and Mining Engineering and Sciences.

GMES Chair John Gierke explains the unique demands and challenges of teaching the field geology course. “While most of us hold a fondness to participate in fieldwork, the glamour wears off when conditions get tough or if the work turns out tedious. Field geology starts a few days after Spring Semester. In addition to the rapidly changing and variable weather, UP fieldwork in May and June is accompanied by hordes of mosquitoes and black flies. The glamour evaporates by the second day. Moreover, field geology is fraught with uncertainty and figuring out the geological setting is tedious. Frustrations with the weather, bugs, and unknown are pervasive. It takes special people to lead students through the five week, all-day, every-day course.”

In addition, Michigan Tech’s field course has non-traditional timing which creates unique learning opportunities, but might make the teaching even more demanding. Pennington explains, “In most institutions, the ‘field course’ in geology is the final course, often following all other coursework. At Michigan Tech, it is usually taken after the second year. This enables students to have a better understanding of the basis for nearly all their subsequent courses … but only if the field course is taught in a way that encourages self-discovery and insight. For many years, Bob and Chad have taken the field course to new levels of integration with the concepts students are exposed to in their courses, helping the students to better master the concepts as well as the practices involved in the various disciplines that are based on these experiences. This approach to field experience is one of the things that makes Michigan Tech unique, and our students more successful upon graduation.”

Deering and Barron’s co-nomination for the Dean’s Showcase is based not on one particular innovation but their collective skills for success in developing students’ field skills in geology. Their complementary styles and knowledge have been an ideal pairing for leading the course, and student evaluations of instruction confirm their effectiveness. They approach each new site with a sequence that includes background literature, field observations, measurements and sampling, then further study in the microscopy lab.

They find ways to reinforce the mineralogy, petrology and structural geology skills developed in prerequisite courses, and insist on frequent individual and small-group interactions in the field to help the students persist, guiding them to an appropriate explanation for each site.

Intermingled through the learning experience are barbecues, brief periods of shooting the breeze in picturesque locales and other recreational activities. The fieldwork activities culminate with students creating geological maps and reports describing their findings. At this point in their studies, students span a spectrum of abilities for scientific writing and creating maps, which require artistic skills along with technical competence.

Gierke articulates the unique teaching challenges of the field course, saying “Achieving a balance of being critical of quality and yet maintaining morale is a knack that I have never mastered—I, unfortunately, excel at the being-critical part. Yet Bob and Chad have somehow figured out how to take students who are exhausted, sunburned and fly bitten and keep them sufficiently motivated to produce maps that could be framed (for some) and develop writing skills that help them through the rest of their curriculum.”

Deering and Barron will be recognized at an end-of-term luncheon with other showcase members, and the team 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 Meyer, Director, William G. Jackson Center for Teaching and Learning

Dean’s Teaching Showcase: Kris Mattila

Kris G. Mattila
Kris G. Mattila

Dean Wayne Pennington of the College of Engineering has selected Kris Mattila, associate professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE), as the second member of the Spring 2018 Deans’ Teaching Showcase.

CEE Chair Audra Morse nominated Mattila because “every student remembers Kris Mattila as a positive influence on their success at Michigan Tech and their career.” She calls Mattila a “highly skilled and innovative teacher,” and praises his unique ability to “connect with and challenge every student, in large or small classes.”

In addition, Morse wanted to recognize the leadership roles Mattila has taken in curriculum development and assessment, especially in courses related to professional practice.

Pennington echoes Morse’s sentiments, saying “Dr. Mattila stands out as a dedicated teaching professor—one who has made a determination to excel in student support and mentoring, and who has volunteered to take on additional challenges in undergraduate education. His work enables students to enter the workforce with a greater knowledge of their potential avenues to success in the ‘real world,’ with a firm foundation in the principles of construction and its practice. We are fortunate to have Kris leading the charge for excellence in teaching in this discipline.”

Mattila’s success as an instructor has made him a member of the Michigan Tech Academy of Teaching Excellence and a five-time recipient of the Howard E. Hill Outstanding Faculty of the Year Award. He has also been recognized for his contributions in construction engineering education, including an American Society for Engineering Education Outstanding Educator Award.

Mattila’s ability to focus on each student is, perhaps, the reason his teaching has been so well received. Morse, when asked to provide more detail about how Mattila connects with students, says: “Kris doesn’t see students in his class. Rather he sees people with individual needs he seeks to fulfill so that they are successful in his class and in our program. He learns students’ names and other details, and he weaves this information into the material he is teaching. He cares about students and increases their self-efficacy. Because he is open and caring, the students reciprocate, ensuring a high positive rapport is created in the classroom.”

Mattila will be recognized at an end-of-term luncheon with 11 other showcase members. He 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 and outside-the-classroom teaching methods, or work in curriculum and assessment.

By Michael Meyer, Director, William G. Jackson Center for Teaching and Learning.