Towner Prize Winners

Each year, the College of Engineering celebrates good teaching with the Richard & Eleanor Towner Prize for Outstanding Graduate Student Instructors.

2020 Winners

Abigail Azari (CLaSP 423) developed an interactive lab series for the first offering of CLaSP 423 to encourage students’ understanding in the intersection of climate, space, and data analysis. Michael Hua (NERS 211) completely rewrote a course, given to him one month before it began, to engage students and incorporate diversity, inclusion, and collaboration in all aspects of his classroom. Christina Kang-Yun (CEE 482/582) went above and beyond to make herself approachable and flexible with any student in her class, striving to tailor her approach to each student’s learning preferences while challenging students to help them grow. Brian Raeker (EECS 330) organized lab tours, invited guest lecturers, and revised lab manuals to facilitate the learning process for students while emphasizing the real-world applications of their learning.

2020 Honorable Mentions: Shamsheer Chauhan (AERO); Maithili Patel (ME); Niloufar Salehi (ChE); Michael Wang (MSE).

2019 Winners

Nel Escher (EECS 183) realized that the CSE tutoring network had no mechanism for confidential feedback, so she created the tutor feedback system that EECS 183 now uses; Mary McMeekin (ME 250) showed great initiative by developing “Lecture to Lab” slides to present at each ME 250 lab section, in order to help bridge the disconnect between lecture material and its application to the lab projects; Tony Shin (NERS 535) created an alternative assignment for his students who, due to a recent change in the licensing, were unable to acquire a simulation software often used in the NERS 535 course; Phillip Yang (BME 241 & 458) went above and beyond for his BME students, often opening the lab early and staying late when his students needed help finalizing the details for their projects. 

2019 Honorable Mentions: Navid Barani Lonbani (ECE); Amos Cao (BME); Shamsheer Singh Chauhan (AERO); Yi-Hsuan Chen (CLASP); Houtan Jebelli (CEE); Nooshin Mohammadi Estakhri (ECE); Ritz S Raju (NERS); Dieon Roger (ISD); Kai Wu (NAME); Nina Zabihi (CEE).

2018 Winners

Chaozhe He (ME 542) revolutionized the structure of his course by creating a final project that challenges students to apply the knowledge they learned in lecture. The students work in teams and design a race car controller to compete against other teams in a mini Formula One race; Jin Woo Lee (ME 211) created 3D printed, customizable models that students can use to simulate the problems given to them in class in order to elevate their learning experience from mere memorization to total conceptualization and understanding; Isaac Spiegel (ME 360) writes practice problems for his students that specifically target the areas in which they are having difficulty so that he can completely flesh out the concept for their benefit; Yevgeniy Yesilevskiy (ME 350) uses humor in his interactions with students to liven up his long discussion sections and to build approachable, dynamic personality with whom students feel comfortable asking questions and reviewing material.

2017 Winners

Amrita Chaudhury (BME 451/452) encourages students in her senior capstone design course to combine critical thinking skills with imagination and resourcefulness; Patrick Pannuto (C4CS) conceived, designed, and initiated the course Computing for Computer Scientists, which has grown to over 600 students registered in the last year; Nathan Sawicki (EECS 216 & 351) developed music-based projects which were highly interactive, enabling students to absorb a large amount of information without feeling overwhelmed; Emily Speakman (IOE 202) used real-world problems, in which she helped students use both algebraic approaches and practical experiences.

2016 Winners

Vidal Borromeo (EECS 381) created a robust learning environment centered on over 14 weekly office hours, 12 hour review sessions, and innovative learning tools to remember key concepts; Emily Herbert (ENGR 100) designed a new section of ENGR 100 based on the BLUElab Living Building Challenge; Ramya Kumar (ChE 330) incorporated new active learning techniques into her class to allow students to engage and be inclusive of all students; Sahithya Reddivari (CEE 325) redesigned the course’s labs to emphasize learning through real-world examples.

2015 Winners

Jonathan Beaumont (EECS 470) redesigned the course’s labs and projects to use a more industry-standard language thus increasing accessibility and reducing student “busy work”; Michael Benson (ENGR 101) rewrote and enhanced his course’s autograders such that students could obtain instantaneous feedback on their coding projects before turning it in, leading to better student understanding of algorithms and debugging; Julie Fogarty (CEE 415) created new virtual reality tools to help students better understand complex spatial arrangements by viewing them in three-dimensional space; Mai Le (EECS 451) developed new active learning activities specific to the course material in order to address multiple learning styles.

2014 Winners

Alex Burnap (ME455-DESCI502) designed class activities to engage students with the course content and developed a new interactive class website, which was integrated with CTools; Sakib Elahi (BIOMED 458) developed new course material to assist students with technical communications and error analysis and applied the principles of the Kolb learning style inventory to teach in a manner that reached all of his students; Hamid-Reza Ossareh (EECS 560) created interactive study guides for each class session to summarize key principles and illustrate concepts using real world examples; Bryce Wiedenbeck (ENGR 151) designed new laboratory projects to support students at many academic levels.

2013 Winners

Apoorva Bansal introduced relevant and creative problem-solving exercises to demonstrate real-world applications of MATLAB and C++; Connor Moelmann proactively redesigned the SolidWorks software tutorials for ME 250 and designed a remote-controlled machine to help students conceptualize the design process; Jay Patel created a comprehensive solution code for EECS 461 lab exercises and masterfully employed “pointed questions” and Holly Tederington implemented student-question driven active learning techniques in the classroom, and designed a workshop to train new GSIs and IAs in EECS 280.

2012 Winners

As a GSI for a senior design course, Shaurjo Biswas (MSE 489), worked diligently to provide guidance for all aspects of the 10 different team projects. Andrew DeOrio (EECS 470) created special virtual office hours, which allowed him to interact with a large number of student teams and view their computer codes simultaneously.Incorporating active and innovative teaching methods such as mobile technology and engaging in education research are just a few aspects of Marcial Lapp’s (IOE 202) commitment to teaching. Shani Ross refined the laboratory modules for BME 241 and provided careful feedback on lab reports to improve student learning.