A flair for creating innovative courses and a dedication to mentoring students brought recognition to three Princeton Engineering faculty members at the close of 2011-2012 academic year.

Maria Garlock, associate professor of civil and environmental engineering, received the President’s Award for Distinguished Teaching at the University’s Commencement exercises June 5. Garlock’s research blends structural engineering and art, a combination that she has used in creating dynamic courses and project opportunities for students. One course brought students to Chicago to study tall buildings, while another project resulted in students creating models of works by structural artist Félix Candela, which were then exhibited in the Princeton University Art Museum.

“I admire her insights as a mentor, her enthusiasm as a teacher and her drive as an individual,” wrote one graduate student in nominating Garlock for the award. “Education to her is a holistic combination of teaching, research and mentoring.”

In presenting the award at the University Commencement exercises, Dean of the Faculty David Dobkin said of Garlock, “She can find poetry in reinforced concrete, beauty in the hyperbolic paraboloid.”

Stephen Lyon, professor of electrical engineering, received the Distinguished Teaching Award from the School of Engineering at Class Day exercises June 4. Over the last 20 years Lyon has collaborated with other faculty members to create six entirely new courses, each bringing innovative approaches and important new topics into the curriculum. A course he developed on “Optoelectronics” in 1993 has been passed on to other faculty members and continues to be flagship course today. Lyon also was an integral part of the creation of a school-wide course called “An Introduction to Engineering,” which involves topical, hands-on engineering projects for freshman. Lyon currently serves as the faculty coordinator for the course.

“One hallmark of outstanding teaching is the constant renewal of the teaching material, bringing it up to date, and even into the future,” said Claire Gmachl, acting vice dean, in presenting the award to Lyon. “Prof. Lyon embodies this ideal most fully. He has an unmatched track record in introducing new courses well ahead of the curve.”

Ramon van Handel, assistant professor of operations research and financial engineering, was honored with a Graduate Mentoring Award by the McGraw Center for Teaching and Learning at the Graduate School’s hooding ceremony June 4,

Van Handel has taught classes on topics including stochastic processes, stochastic calculus and stochastic methods for quantitative finance.

“By treating me more as his colleague than his student, Ramon has been extremely successful in building a rich and fertile environment in which I feel free to speak out about whatever ideas I have,” wrote one student. “Ultimately, however, if I were to be asked what really makes Ramon stand out as a true mentor to me, the answer would lie in the fact that he is passionate about his students, about their creativity and their ability to find their own way.”