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College of Engineering at The University of Texas at San Antonio Online Magazine

Regents' Outstanding Teaching Award Recepients

Engineering’s 2012 Regents’ Outstanding Teaching Award Recipients

In November 2008, the UT System Board of Regents introduced the Regents’ Outstanding Teaching Awards for its nine academic institutions. The awards recognize faculty who deliver the highest quality of undergraduate instruction, demonstrate their commitment to teaching, and have a history and promising future of sustained excellence with undergraduate teaching.

The Regents allocated $1 million per year for five years for these teaching awards. It is intended that no fewer than 30 total awards are made each year. The awards are $25,000 and are believed to be among the highest in the nation for rewarding outstanding undergraduate faculty performance and innovation. Actual awards are made on the strength of individual faculty, not proportionally by campus.

Randall Manteufel

Randall Manteufel

Associate Professor, Mechanical Engineering

“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 at UTSA.

Like all good engineers, Manteufel 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.”

Can Saygin

Can Saygin

Professor, Mechanical Engineering

Can Saygin is a professor of mechanical engineering at UTSA. His exceptional approach to teaching and his methodologies used in the classroom have earned him the admiration of students. His evaluation scores have consistently put him in the top categories for excellence in teaching and course quality.

Saygin’s teaching philosophy is one that inspires his students to become life-long learners. As an educator, he sees himself as a facilitator, whose primary responsibility is to create a stimulating atmosphere in which learning, rather than teaching, takes place naturally, and students mature intellectually. Although he wants his students to understand the materials in the classroom, he also wants them to walk away with questions that go beyond the concepts covered. By fostering an environment of research and discovery, Saygin is able to set the groundwork for continued education.

“After all,” Saygin says, “learning to learn is the ultimate skill my students are expected to have as knowledge workers in the information economy.”

He understands that teaching requires versatility. Some students learn through sequential lectures, while others thrive in hands-on experiments. In all cases, he models his curriculum to engage the various methods of understanding.

According to one of his students, “Dr. Saygin addresses students’ multiple learning styles in many ways. Presenting information as open-ended questions, rather than long lectures, enables a higher level of learning to take place and allows interpersonal learners an opportunity to get involved.”

When he isn’t in the classroom teaching, Saygin is also the director of the Interactive Technology Experience Center (iTEC) and is actively involved in the Center for Advanced Manufacturing and Lean Systems (CAMLS) as well as the Society of Automotive Engineers.

Heather Shipley

Heather Shipley

Assistant Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering

Assistant Professor Heather Shipley is very passionate about undergraduate education. Through her rigorous teaching, mentoring, advising, and research, she offers some of the most balanced and beneficial courses in civil and environmental engineering.

To ensure all of her students are successful, Shipley tailors her courses to incorporate homework, group exercises, quizzes, exams and projects. These course objectives parallel program standards and expectations, which enable students to apply the fundamentals of engineering needed for their degrees.

Shipley believes students need to be motivated beyond what they see in the classroom. They need to have first-hand knowledge of how her courses are used outside of academia.

“Engineering is the application of science; therefore, it is important that students get hands-on experiences with what they are learning in the classroom. I am very enthusiastic about taking my students on field trips,” Shipley says. “Field trips allow students to compare what they have learned and how that can be implemented in real life.”

Her dedication to the success of her students goes beyond helping those who take her class. In order to become a practicing engineer, students must first pass two tests—the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam and the Professional Engineering (PE) exam. To prepare students for the FE exam, Shipley volunteers three hours every semester to instruct a review session.

Shipley also doesn’t believe research should be the sole domain of graduate students. To her, research is complementary to teaching; because of this, she always involves undergraduates in her research projects. These undergraduates have presented posters of their work, attended conferences and have been published in academic journals.

Aside from her work in research and teaching, Shipley is also the faculty adviser for Engineers Without Borders and an adviser for students in her department.

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