Utah State University Engineering faculty member Dr. Laurie McNeill’s selection as this year’s Carnegie Professor of the Year for Utah means 10 of the state’s last 16 picks came from USU. McNeill is one of 38 national winners named Thursday. She is an associate professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at USU. McNeill said her ultimate goal is to get students to learn how to learn. “Facts they will forget, but if I can teach them to approach a problem and evaluate it more broadly, they’ll learn what it takes to confront a lot of issues they will face,” she said. Sonia Manuel-Dupont, a past winner of the Carnegie award, is an associate of McNeill’s. “She’s a very innovative and collaborative teacher,” said Manuel-Dupont. “Her approach to teaching is to give students the skills they’re going to need to go on and be problem solvers and contribute to the knowledge base when they graduate.” Manuel-Dupont said she and McNeill for many years have taught courses that are linked together. She referred to McNeill’s joyous attitude about teaching. “She gets amazing letters from students saying that she changed their lives and they now know what they want to do, that they feel really good about the choice they have made for their profession. “She really encourages them to learn outside the classroom and to become involved and to deal with issues that are occurring in their communities.” Manuel-Dupont said this is not a case of teaching versus research. “She is a fine researcher. She brings her research knowledge into the classroom. Here area is drinking water and access to drinking water. Students learn from her technical expertise as well as her passion for solving world problems and getting people involved in working in organizations that are outside the scope of their major.” Previously McNeill was honored as the Outstanding Undergraduate Advisor for the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department at USU. In 2007 she won the Eldon J. Gardner “Teacher of the Year” Award, the highest teaching honor at USU. In 2006 she was chosen the Outstanding Teacher in USU’s College of Engineering.
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