AUBURN UNIVERSITY – Auburn University’s Department of Mechanical Engineering has been selected as the inaugural recipient of the University Senate Departmental Award for Excellence in Education. The award, totaling $30,000 over three years, was administered on behalf of the Office of the Provost through the university’s Biggio Center and the University Senate Teaching Effectiveness Committee.
“This award for excellence in education provides a structure to foster and sustain a university-wide culture of teaching excellence,” said Donald Mulvaney, chair of the Teaching Effectiveness Committee. “Not only does it recognize departments that are engaged in sustained efforts to promote teaching excellence, it is envisioned that the award will have a long-lasting impact as it nourishes collegiality, collaboration and the development of an academic community that values and prioritizes exemplary teaching and learning.”
Proposals from 11 academic departments from across campus were submitted in January to the Teaching Effectiveness Committee. After a review, four departments were selected as finalists and invited to provide a full proposal development. Each department presented a plan outlining future teaching and learning enhancement activities.
“I am proud of Mechanical Engineering’s outstanding group of faculty members for their contributions to the department throughout the years, but also for their pursuit of knowledge and progression of teaching methods that was reflective in the award proposals,” said Jeff Suhling, chair of the Department of Mechanical Engineering.
The award-winning presentation was coordinated by Sushil Bhavnani, the Henry M. Burt Jr. Professor of Mechanical Engineering.
“We are honored to be selected to receive this award,” said Bhavnani. “The faculty members in Auburn’s largest department are excited to have the opportunity to positively impact student learning and engagement.”
The department is currently home to more than 1,150 students. The award provides funding at $10,000 per year for a three-year period during which the Department of Mechanical Engineering will introduce faculty development activities to enhance the continued advancement of effective practices in teaching and learning.
“We plan to implement a five-pronged approach to augment current teaching and learning initiatives. These have been chosen based on feedback from stakeholders including undergraduate students, graduate students, employers, parents and faculty,” said Bhavnani.
The five new programs include student-produced learning modules in introductory courses; student-led tutoring in upper-level classes; faculty-led flipped segments of courses; establishing closer ties with industry through internships and guest lectures; and enhancing undergraduate research pathways.
“The criteria used in developing these initiatives were that they should positively impact student learning, be inexpensive, and allow implementation by any academic unit on campus,” said Bhavnani. “They are designed to impact a large and broad group of the student body.”
(Written by Morgan Stashick.)