2011 Engineering Teaching Awards

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The William States Lee College of Engineering presented its 2011 teaching awards on Dec. 1. Dr. Sara McMillan of Engineering Technology and Construction Management was named the Undergraduate Teacher of the Year, and Dr. Yogi Kakad of Electrical and Computer Engineering the Graduate Teacher of the Year.

teachingawards 1Undergraduate Teacher of the Year

Dr. Sara McMillan

Dr. McMillan was recognized as an exceptionally well-rounded individual who actively participates in undergraduate initiatives and curricular innovations throughout the college and university. She was commended for her dedication to student learning and her level of interaction with her students.

“My teaching philosophy centers on problem-based learning and providing students with opportunities to build upon previously learned concepts,” Dr. McMillan said. “My goal in teaching is to provide my students the skills and knowledge they need to be successful, while at the same time instilling a sense of environmental stewardship.

“I use multiple methods in my courses, all built around the concept of spiral learning where students are introduced to concepts that build upon each other throughout their coursework. Through problem-based learning in field and laboratory exercises, I help students understand how concepts are applied and extended to multiple systems and environments.

“I strongly believe that learning does not stop when students leave the classroom, and I am committed to offering undergraduate students opportunities to pursue independent research. I currently have three undergraduate students assisting with various research activities and/or pursuing their own research projects.

“I am passionate about ensuring the sustainability of our natural resources while balancing the needs of advancing human society. As part of a cross-college effort, I teamed with faculty from the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences and the Lee College of Engineering to spearhead an effort to infuse sustainability into the general curriculum. This effort has directly led to development of a new course that I will offer this fall (Sustainable Systems).”

Link to full nomination.

teachingawardsGraduate Teacher of the Year

Dr. Yogi Kakad

During his 34-year career at UNC Charlotte, Dr. Kakad has directed more than 40 master’s theses and six doctoral dissertations. He has also served on more than 200 master’s theses and 13 doctoral dissertation committees.

“My basic teaching philosophy for graduate education,” Dr. Kakad said, “is to provide complete mentoring of a graduate student during the time he or she spends at UNC Charlotte. I like to integrate my graduate teaching, my research and my externally funded research grants to educate a student to succeed.

“In my opinion, mentoring of graduate students is the most important aspect of a strong graduate program. I believe in developing a strong bond between my graduate students and myself, as well as other fellow graduate students. My top priority is to meet with my graduate students as a group and sometimes individually on a regular basis to monitor their progress in research.

“I firmly believe I have the responsibility to make it a priority that my graduate students attain professional success after graduation. I am proactive in finding appropriate jobs for them using my contacts or by identifying and funding research internships during their studies. I also find summer internships for my graduate students during their course of graduate education to help them find permanent jobs.”

Link to full nomination.