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Castorena, Pankow and Saul receive Outstanding Teacher Award

Drs. Castorena, Pankow and SaulThree faculty members in the College of Engineering at North Carolina State University received Outstanding Teacher Awards for 2016-17 at the College’s spring faculty meeting April 26.

Dr. Cassie Castorena is an assistant professor in the Department of Civil, Construction, and Environmental Engineering. Dr. Mark Pankow is an assistant professor in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering. Dr. Katherine Saul is an associate professor in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering.

The award, presented to 17 NC State faculty members for 2016-17, recognizes excellence in teaching at all levels and is a prerequisite for being considered for the Board of Governors Award for Excellence in Teaching and the Alumni Distinguished Professor Award.

Recipients become members of the Academy of Outstanding Teachers for as long as they are NC State faculty members. Recognition is given at commencement, the Celebration of Academic Excellence and the Teaching and Learning Symposium.

Castorena joined the NC State faculty in 2012. She is interested in multi-scale characterization of asphalt materials, asphalt binder modification, asphalt pavement design, and asphalt pavement distress mechanisms. According to her colleagues, she is regarded as a positive and motivating force to her students and has developed and implemented several pedagogical innovations in her lectures that enable a deeper fundamental understanding of the course material, all while preparing students for the next step outside of the lecture, and inside the laboratories. A student wrote, “Going above and beyond her expected duties, she works to ensure her students’ success regardless of their intended practice.”

Pankow joined the NC State faculty in 2012. His long-term goal is to contribute to the advancement of our understanding of high impact bio-mechanics with an emphasis on the mechanical effects on the skull-brain system. He is regarded as a world-class mentor and advisor by his peers. As was noted in his nomination, his ability to lead a classroom, bring clarity to complicated topics and the opportunities he affords students to succeed are noticed by all who take his courses. One student wrote, “He has guided me through some of my most difficult hardships and through situations where I was too forlorn to pick electives for an upcoming semester. His kindness extends beyond myself; his door is always open to students of any background who need mentoring.”

Saul joined the NC State faculty in 2013. Her research applies mechanical engineering techniques to improve treatment outcomes for neuromusculoskeletal disorders of the upper limb across the lifespan, using both computational dynamic simulation and experimental methods. She was praised in her nomination for the award for her dedication to cultivating diverse and unique learning styles that have proven successful in aiding accessible learning for students of all backgrounds while making her classes engaging and thought provoking. “She always encouraged me to learn. I don’t know what would have happened to my engineering career if I had not taken her class, but I know that I am so much better off for having taken it. She is the most influential advisor I’ve had,” noted one student.

– heath –