Engineering student organizations celebrated the passion and dedication of faculty members and graduate student teaching assistants at the annual School of Engineering and Applied Science Excellence in Teaching Awards.
“We hope to recognize the professors and teaching assistants that performed much more than what was expected of them,” said Stanley Cho, a junior in chemical and biological engineering and president of the undergraduate engineering council, in opening remarks at the March 16 ceremony. “We can’t emphasize enough how much we enjoyed reading [students’] heartfelt comments during the nomination process.”
The teaching awards, overseen by the graduate and undergraduate engineering councils, recognize outstanding instructors in courses held during the spring semester 2020-21 and the fall semester 2021-22.
“There’s nothing that can give me more pleasure than honoring excellence in teaching,” Princeton Engineering Dean Andrea Goldsmith told student nominators, awardees and guests gathered at the Friend Center. “The importance of teaching at Princeton is profound,” she said.
Student presenters expressed gratitude for their instructors’ commitment to keeping course material fresh and engaging, and to building students’ confidence. Many students noted that professors, lecturers and teaching assistants went to extraordinary lengths to help students learn and adjust during the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Junior Shannen Prindle said that Craig Arnold, the Susan Dod Brown Professor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, “generated a classroom atmosphere that made every student not only comfortable asking questions, but really eager to ask them.”
In his course, “Structure and Properties of Materials,” Arnold was “keenly aware of which topics he taught were really difficult for students, and would supplement them with extra visuals,” Prindle said. “Professor Arnold wasn’t just trying to teach us content. He wanted us to look at the world differently after the course was done and pay closer attention to the materials around us.”
Yibing Su, a Ph.D. student in civil and environmental engineering, “was truly a light in the darkness for us last spring, during a time when classes were virtual” and students spent many hours of the day isolated in their dorm rooms, said senior Claire Wayner. “She was really putting her all into the course, to not only help us to learn, but also to help us to survive as human beings,” added Wayner, who said she appreciated Su’s flexibility in meeting with students and enthusiasm in sharing her research on extratropical cyclones.
Sophomore Rohit Narayanan said that class with Hossein Valavi, a lecturer in electrical and computer engineering, “was not about him presenting the material, but rather about us knowing it … Professor Valavi had the unique skill of correcting a student thoroughly without making them feel anything but the utmost pride in being bold enough to present, and every time the class gained significantly from the interaction.”
First-year student Merritt Zhang praised the welcoming environment of the general physics course taught by Professor Daniel Marlow, who “always strove to bring physics to life.” Zhang said Marlow, the Evans Crawford 1911 Professor of Physics, taught with “extraordinary passion and care” and “wonderfully transferred the light from his eyes into the eyes of his students.”
Lifetime Achievement Awards, given to faculty members for receiving five or more Excellence in Teaching Awards, were presented to Donna Gabai, a lecturer in computer science, and Claire Gmachl, the Eugene Higgins Professor of Electrical Engineering.
Gabai “took the time outside of class to ensure I had all the tools I needed in order to succeed in class,” said sophomore Dwaipayan Saha, who added that Gabai enlivened the course material by presenting interesting extensions and applications. “I hope you can continue to inspire many more generations of COS concentrators as you have [inspired] me. It was an absolute delight to learn from you,” he said.
The recipients are:
Dr. Amitesh Datta (MAT 204) Advanced Linear Algebra with Applications
Professor Branko Glišić (CEE 312) Statics of Structures
Professor Jesse Jenkins (ENE 422) Introduction to the Electricity Sector: Engineering, Economics, and Regulation
Dr. Hossein Valavi (ECE 203) Electronic Circuit Design, Analysis and Implementation
Niki Abbasi (MAE 222) Mechanics of Fluids
Yibing Su (CEE 306) Hydrology: Water and Climate
Isobel Ojalvo (PHY 104) General Physics II
Zachary Hervieux-Moore (ORF 401) Electronic Commerce
Professor Craig Arnold (MAE 324) Structure and Properties of Materials
Dr. Penelope Georges (FRS 127) Body Builders: Living Systems as Art Media
Professor Daniel Marlow (PHY 103) General Physics I
Charlotte Cathcart (MAE 223) Modern Solid Mechanics
Cole Hullfish (CBE 504) Chemical Reactor Engineering
Teresa Lee (CHM 207) Advanced General Chemistry: Materials Chemistry
Professor Claire Gmachl (EGR 151) Foundations of Engineering: Mechanics, Energy, and Waves
Donna Gabai (COS 217) Introduction to Programming Systems