Excellence in Teaching Awards

Monday, February 18, 2019

The Lee College of Engineering has awarded its top honors for teaching, the Undergraduate and Graduate Excellence in Teaching Awards for 2018. The winner of the undergraduate teaching award is Ms. Courtney Green of the Engineering Technology and Construction Management Department. The winner of the graduate teaching award is Dr. Andrew Willis of the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department.

Ms. Green has been a full-time faculty member in ETCM since January 2015.  During this time she has taught nine different undergraduate courses to students from all five academic programs within ETCM, ranging from the freshman to the junior level.

Ms. Green said her teaching philosophy continues to evolve with practice and with experience. “Each new class, and each new student impacts and refines my beliefs and practices in the classroom,” she said. “While my teaching philosophy is dynamic, it is rooted in structure and support both inside and outside of class.”

Some of the student comments about Ms. Green’s teaching include:

  • “The material of this class is difficult, but Ms. Green is a very effective professor who makes it easy to understand. Everything is done step by step, and organized in a way that makes sense. I appreciate Ms. Green's knowledge and teaching methods. I feel like I learned a lot in class and will be able to use it in the future.”
  • “Professor Green is an awesome professor. She is always available to talk about homework and topics outside of class. She is a very effective prof, I overall learned a lot of material from this class and I can apply it in industry.”
  • “Ms. Green is a great professor. She breaks things down to easily show you how everything is happening and really takes the time students need to learn difficult topics. The tests are hard, but at the same time mistakes get people killed when it deals with structures.”

The members of the Undergraduate Teaching Award Committee were faculty members David Naylor, Stuart Smith, Robert Cox, Churlzu Lim and Dan Hoch.

Dr. Andrew Willis has been at UNC Charlotte since August 2005. When he first began his career he saw teaching as an opportunity to shape and influence the minds of students, just as Marcus Tullius Cicero quoted; “What nobler employment, or more valuable to the state, than that of the man who instructs the rising generation?” His teaching philosophy has grown over time. As Dr. Willis now says, “I no longer focus strictly on classical notions of pedagogy. Vast amounts of information and unprecedented communication capabilities have created a world where theory and technology are advancing at rates Cicero could not have possibly anticipated. Technologies are created, superseded and destroyed in terms of months and years rather than decades.”

Some of the student comments about Dr. Willis’ teaching include:

  • “The first thing I like about his teaching is how he explains a topic with examples. His courses were challenging and interesting at the same time. He designed the homework and projects in a way that these made us intensify the knowledge we learned from his class. However, the solution was always a simple one, which was quite interesting. Beside these, he always provided us some practical projects that can verify the theoretical results.”
  • “I believe Dr. Willis is one of the most dedicated professors here at UNC Charlotte. It is because of teachers like him that students are inspired to become great engineers. He is also passionate and engaged in everything he does, which pushes the students to set high goals and excel.”
  • “There always seems to be that one person who supports you to be authentic and the best version of yourself, and I would say that Dr. Willis has been that for me through his teaching and mentorship. Dr. Willis instills extreme confidence in his students when they complete a project, but if a student misses something in the project or exam, he does his best to understand where the student went wrong. He does this because he cares about helping his current and future students succeed, and not just be competent engineers, but extraordinary ones.”

The members of the Graduate Teaching Award Committee were faculty members Janos Gergely, Harish Cherukuri, Tom Weldon, Churlzu Lim and Bruce Gehrig.