The Lee College of Engineering has awarded its top honors for teaching, the Undergraduate and Graduate Excellence in Teaching Awards for 2019-20. The winner of the undergraduate teaching award is Dr. Mihail (Misha) Cutitaru of the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department. The winner of the graduate teaching award is Dr. Nicole Braxtan of the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department.
A teaching assistant professor in the ECE Department, Dr. Cutitaru teaches large enrollment foundational classes including Introduction to Engineering, Logic System Design, and Computer Organization. Additionally, he serves as an advisor to the local IEEE student chapter, and has been a mentor on several senior design projects.
Dr. Cutitaru motivates students to learn abstract topics by tying the topics learned in class to real-life applications from industry. Of particular relevance to modern pedagogical methods, is his effective use of technology to provide videos of classroom lectures, promote interactive classes, and interactive annotation of lecture slides. Dr. Cutitaru’s expertise in online learning proved especially helpful to other ECE faculty when all classes had to be transitioned online during the Covid-19 pandemic in spring 2020.
Student reviews indicate that, while students find Dr. Cutitaru’s classes challenging, they appreciate his sincere efforts, his depth of knowledge and the genuine care he has for their education.
An Assistant Professor in the CEE Department, Dr. Braxtan’s teaching philosophy emphasizes a blend between theoretical knowledge and computer applications. She has developed new courses with positive outcomes and positive comments from students.
Student testimonials describe Dr. Braxtan as a professor committed to helping students succeed, while maintaining high and attainable expectations of them and providing needed support and guidance.
As a successful researcher, Dr. Braxtan has secured more than $800,000 in funding, which, in collaboration with other faculty, she has supported or advised 19 graduate students. She has presented papers at ASEE meetings, in addition to making other talks on educational topics. Outside of the classroom, she has been involved in engineering summer camps and outreach programs.