Three faculty members in the College of Engineering at North Carolina State University have been named recipients of the Outstanding Teacher Award for 2019-20.
Dr. Hsiao-Ying Shadow Huang is an associate professor in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering; Dr. Naji Husseini is a teaching assistant professor in the UNC/NC State Joint Department of Biomedical Engineering; and Dr. Steve Shannon is a professor in the Department of Nuclear Engineering.
The award 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.
Dr. Hsiao-Ying Shadow Huang
Since joining the NC State faculty in 2010, Huang has contributed to the success of many students while bringing enthusiasm and innovation to her curriculum and lectures. Her commitment to teaching and conducting research with students is evident in her development of innovative courses at both the undergraduate and graduate level and her being named a 2019 recipient of the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE).
Huang’s teaching philosophy is centered around motivating students to intuitively understand the material being taught so that they can apply what they are learning to situations outside of the direct context of the class. “This means that I must demonstrate and show enthusiasm for the deep understanding that is required to transfer learning to situations outside of the immediate context.”
Her success can be seen in the glowing reviews from students. One shared, “Her impressive problem-solving skills and her willingness to work with students outside of the classroom are some things that easily made her a student’s favorite in no time. Her upbeat and motivating personality in the class along with her teaching style and passion for her area of expertise made it so easy to understand the rigorous and difficult coursework we had to take in that graduate class.”
Dr. Naji Husseini
Husseini joined the NC State and UNC faculty in 2014 as a lecturer – becoming a teaching assistant professor in 2017. He is a dedicated faculty member who has revamped and teaches five different courses in varying fields from computer programming to biomechanics to biomaterials at both institutions. In particular, he has brought innovation and creativity to the MATLAB programming class. Historically known as a “dry” course, Husseini updated the course with BME-specific hands-on activities by implementing a small computer for less than $600 for 80 students and developed a low-cost motion capture system – saving thousands of dollars – and successfully used it to measure gait forced and tracking joint motion.
Husseini never shies away from hard work and is always willing to teach a new course on short notice even if the material is unfamiliar. One colleague noted, “Our department had an unexpected opening in a biomechanics class three days before the start of the semester. Naji had a weekend to learn material outside of his specialty and modify the existing course. As we implement a comprehensive overhaul of our curriculum on both campuses, Naji is developing new inquiry-driven lab classes in biomechanics.”
His impact on students is seen in his many glowing reviews from course evaluations. One student said, “Naji is a wonderful course director. He comes to class prepared and enthused about the subject matter. He genuinely cares about the well–being and encouragement of his students. The course material was intellectually stimulating, and helped connect loose ends from other classes. My knowledge of biomaterials has broadened extensively because of this course.”
Dr. Steve Shannon
Since joining the NC State faculty in 2008, Shannon has proven himself to be an efficient, innovative and caring instructor. His open-door policy ensures that all of his students see success. Even when the questions do not pertain to nuclear engineering, he spends time helping in any way he can – including spending time with students after hours and in evenings in their study groups.
According to Shannon, the best advice on teaching he ever received was from his mentor, she shared with him: “You can roughly break a class up into a 20 percent – 60 percent – 20 percent split. The top 20 percent will do any amount of work you give them, no matter how much it may be. The bottom 20 percent won’t do half of the work that you give them, no matter how little it may be. Focus on the 60 percent. Your job is to get as many of them into that top tier as possible, keep them out of that bottom tier, and along the way you will be surprised at the positive impact you can have on that bottom 20 percent as well.” This statement has shaped into Shannon’s classroom philosophy.
His dedication to his students is evident from the comments by all those who interact with him. A current Ph.D. student in nuclear engineering and advisee of Shannon shared, “I am deeply grateful to Dr. Shannon for the time he invested in me and the advice he has given during my tenure at NCSU. His dedication to students is wildly apparent, and his reputation among the department’s students is high. He is known for always lending an ear, and giving thoughtful, actionable advice. His wide breadth of perspective, from industry engineer and adjunct professor to full professor at NCSU, is also at the forefront of his teaching style, and he emphasizes first-principles understanding coupled with hands-on research.”
Historically, the award is presented at the spring faculty meeting, but due to COVID-19 and large gathering restrictions, Huang, Husseini and Shannon will be honored at the fall faculty meeting.