"For Autar, excellence as it relates to undergraduates does not stop at 'education' but encompasses a much broader and arguably more critical concept, 'the undergraduate experience.'"
- Ali Yalcin, director of graduate programs and associate professor of industrial and management systems engineering
The first day of every semester, University of South Florida engineering professor Autar Kaw shows a PowerPoint slide to determine whether all the students in his classroom can clearly see the front of the room.
"When such sections are found (there usually are several), he drafts an email to the responsible authorities to ensure the room capacity and layout is adjusted accordingly," noted a fellow professor.
During his lectures, he uses clickers to get student feedback. "The use of clickers gives an invaluable advantage of involving all students in an open but safe environment and in peer-to-peer interactions while still being able to question their assumptions and examine their intellectual modeling of the concepts," wrote Kaw in his personal statement.
These are just two of the ways in which Kaw strives to continually improve both teaching quality and the learning experience.
He's also a luminary within his field. Kaw has developed innovative web content for a course in numerical methods, funded by the National Science Foundation. Another colleague noted that in 2011 alone, Kaw's YouTube videos received 800,000 views and his blog received 100,000 visits. His learning modules have received more than 1 million views in the last year alone.
"The resources that Professor Kaw has developed and made available provide faculty and students the ideal mix of ingredients for effectively teaching and learning numerical methods," a fellow engineering professor wrote in his nomination letter. "This site has transformed the way faculty members teach and students learn numerical methods around the world."
Not only does he make this information freely accessible, he has also bought enough copies of his book for the university library so that his students can access them free of charge. He also engages with his students on his website and on Twitter.
"It was inspiring to meet a professor who contributes to the community outside of academia by writing columns and editorials for local newspapers on various issues from science to politics to our educational system," wrote a former student.
2011 National Outstanding Teaching Medal, American Society of Engineering Education
2004 CASE U.S. Professor of the Year, Florida state winner
2004 Curriculum Innovation Award, American Society of Mechanical Engineers
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