Lee College of Engineering’s Tony Schmitz invests significant time in his students with a goal to “train decision makers.” For his efforts, he was named the 2018 recipient of the Bank of America Award for Teaching Excellence, one of UNC Charlotte’s most prestigious accolades.
Schmitz, a professor of mechanical engineering and engineering science, and the other award finalists: Robert Cox, an associate professor of electrical and computer engineering; Celine Latulipe, a professor in the Department of Software and Information Systems; Heather Perry, an associate professor of history; and Drew Polly professor of reading and elementary education; were honored during a special reception on Friday, Sept. 7, at the Hilton Charlotte Center City.
Provost Joan Lorden lauded the finalists as intrepid educators who demonstrated a passion for their subject matters and who established partnerships with their students to create intellectual environments that foster collaboration, engagement and relationships of mutual respect.
During his seven years at UNC Charlotte, Schmitz has taught 10 different courses at the undergraduate and graduate levels. He said his role is to “train decision makers, not problem solvers.” A shining example of his self-described, innovative pedagogy is a junior-level design course in which he explains to students: “Design requires creativity, and there is not just one correct answer.”
Graduate student Christoph Kossack said of Schmitz, “Seldom do we have the pleasure to be taught by a professor who invests so much time and effort to ensure that his students truly understand the material that he is teaching them. It is this kind of investment in his students that makes them feel motivated and encourages them to strive for more.”
Steven Guzorek, a senior, added, “Dr. Schmitz has been an amazing influence on my educational and professional career, and his impact will, without question, make me a better person in all areas of my life.”
In 2014, Schmitz became associate chair for graduate programs, and he began revising the Mechanical Engineering and Engineering Science Department’s master’s degree non-thesis option. Department chair Scott Smith said as a result of Schmitz’s leadership, the “department experienced almost a 70 percent increase in graduate enrollment, which was a testament to Tony’s innovative approach to graduate education and to his ability to inspire graduate students.”
Among Schmitz’s other numerous teaching and research awards are the 2017 inaugural North American Manufacturing Research Institution of the Society of Manufacturing Engineers David Dornfeld Manufacturing Vision Award, UNC Charlotte’s 2013 Lee College of Engineering Undergraduate Award in Teaching Excellence and the 2010 North American Manufacturing Research Institute/Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME) Outstanding Paper.
Known as the “pigskin professor,” Schmitz developed an Emmy-winning video series in collaboration with NBC Learn, the National Football League and the National Science Foundation called “The Science of NFL Football.”
Prior to joining UNC Charlotte, Schmitz was a member of the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at the University of Florida.
A graduate of Temple University with a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering, Schmitz completed a master’s degree and Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from the University of Florida.