“My job is to get more students to be committed learners who can and will succeed in engineering,” explains Randall Manteufel, associate professor of mechanical engineering.
Like all good engineers, Mantuefel has created a system in his classroom optimized for efficiency. He employs organization, clarity, technology, equity, and involvement. By believing that each student has the highest motivation for enrolling in his class, his approach is one of respect and “hard but fair” grading practices.
The courses Manteufel teaches aren’t easy. Although fundamental to advancing in engineering, they are fraught with difficult concepts and advanced mathematics. Lectures, however clear and organized, don’t always reach every student. To better meet the needs of his students, he records his lectures for future viewing and teaches using a variety of graphics and visually appealing material. This way, his students can review things discussed in class and see the material first hand.
Manteufel is vigilant in ensuring his ideas are reaching the students. “I’ve come to know where students have conceptual misunderstandings. I know the muddy points. I have seen the same conceptual mistakes repeatedly made,” he says. “I strive to hit these areas hard by explaining the material in more than one way. I may pause and say, I know this is hard stuff. I know too many students missed this on the exam last semester, so let me try and explain it another way.”
It is through this methodology that Manteufel is such an effective teacher. He doesn’t just present material and allow his students to sink or swim. Instead, he makes sure the information takes hold and offers assistance to those struggling with the concepts.
His dedication to his craft doesn’t go unnoticed by the students. As one student wrote on an evaluation, “Dr. Manteufel is, hands down, the best teacher I have had in my entire college career. He exemplifies what it means to be a teacher and UTSA is lucky to have him on their faculty.”
Story and photo by Tim Luukkonen