Utah State University’s Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering received the 2010 Department Teaching Excellence Award, awarded annually as that year’s top teaching prize to one department for outstanding teaching throughout the department. Utah State University President Stan L. Albrecht and Provost Raymond T. Coward presented the award and praised the department for its dedicated faculty, who while adhering to high standards in teaching and research are committed also to helping their students succeed. They also complimented the department for its winning student teams. The president said the evidence presented to the selection committee overwhelmingly supports the fact that this department treats its responsibility for training the next generation of engineers with profound sincerity and unwavering focus. The president and provost both noted from the citation that the many first-place awards and top rankings earned by students from the Mechanical and Aerospace Department in regional and national engineering competitions are a testament to the high standards that the faculty place on their teaching. Many faculty members also have earned honors as outstanding student advisors and outstanding teachers, reflecting this department’s pursuit of instructional improvement through a constant program of assessment and self evaluation. “This award is an example of the college of engineering’s commitment to creating effective, student-friendly learning environments,” said H. Scott Hinton, dean of the College of Engineering. “We think we set the bar pretty high across the board in the college, so we are proud — and honored — to know that our successes are being recognized by colleagues across campus.” He credited faculty in the department for their unwavering focus both on high academic standards and on involving students in projects in and out of the classroom that get ready for the next phases of their lives. “This department recognizes the need to provide students with real-world engineering and professional experience as they concurrently weather some pretty tough academic rigors,” Hinton said. “But these experiences, where they get their hands dirty, pay off for students. They pay off now, of course, with wins in major national competitions but, in the long run, these opportunities pay dividends where it really matters — they get good jobs in an industry that demands inventiveness and exacting standards, traits not in short supply among our students or faculty.” Byard Wood, department head of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, said that developing a high-quality program is an extremely comprehensive endeavor that takes input — and commitment — from a lot of different people in a lot of sometimes-behind-the-scenes areas. The department takes this “complete package” very seriously as it develops the educational package that ends up on students’ plates as they pursue their degrees. “We are proud, certainly, of the programs and experiences that students get to see first-hand,” he said. “But we are equally proud of how our entire team works diligently on the important details that, although sometimes hidden, add up to one clear picture of excellence.” In fact, Wood said, there is probably more that students don’t see than what they do: hours of curriculum development, organizing committees to develop new ideas and programs, processing requests for degree requirement, meeting with advisory boards and other external constituents. He said the department has a history of student success, exciting senior design projects and highly successful alumni who provide evidence of the high quality of education they received. Once again, the department will be well represented in the 2010 College of Engineering awards — for the second year in a row, MAE’s Outstanding Advisor and Outstanding Teacher were selected as the college’s Outstanding Advisor and Outstanding Teacher. MAE graduates consistently finish in the top 10 percent in intercollegiate national student design competitions, pursue Ph.D. degrees at prestigious institutions, and they are well received by industry. The program is growing. Student enrollment has increased by 32 percent over the past five years and 47 percent over the past seven years. Faculty research productivity as measured by research publications, winning research grants, patent applications and students involved in research has more than doubled. And the new engineering building is an exceptional student centered teaching facility.
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