In recognition of her devotion to academic excellence and genuine concern for students, we are pleased to announce that mechanical engineering assistant professor Ashley Spear has been recognized with the 2017-2018 University of Utah Early Career Teaching Award, the College of Engineering Outstanding Teacher for 2018, and is the ME department’s Students’ Choice Outstanding Teacher of the Year!

“I love teaching and working with students!” says Spear, “And I think that comes across in the classroom.”  Coincidentally, Spear was also awarded the 2017-2018 Early Career Teaching Award by the University of Utah.  In her teaching statement, Spear describes several strategies that she uses to increase her teaching effectiveness, including organizing concepts within a “big picture” context, leveraging students’ existing intuition to facilitate self-discovery, fostering a respectful and positive learning environment, and integrating teaching with research and outreach.

Select student comments taken from Spring 2018 Teaching Evaluation:

  • “The content of the class was really interesting and I enjoyed it a lot. I love physics so it made it easy to love statics too. Plus it really made me think a lot about everyday things and how the concepts applied to them.”
  • “I really liked having an opportunity to sign-up for help with homework and see examples. I also appreciated that the problems were similar to everything else we were doing.”
  • “Teacher of the year by far! Excellent office hours, perfectly organized, responds to student feedback, and is highly supportive of her students down to getting to know them by name. I could not have asked for a better professor and would love to TA or do research for her in the future. An inspiration to the engineering community!”
  • “Dr. Spear has been one of the best professors I’ve had. I really looked forward to going to class. She made the class very engaging and she was always available to help students. I always felt like I knew what was expected of me. She is also very funny and quirky making class fun. Donuts on the last day were a plus.”
  • “This was the most effective class I took during the course of this semester. Though it required significant periods of preparation and collaboration, it was well worth it in the end.”
  • “Prof. Spear was constantly helping us to apply and to know how the concepts we learned applied to life around us and our future careers. She gave examples about how certain concepts, like cross product, applied to her work. She also showed us examples of her own thought process when approaching problems. Dr. Spear has done everything she can to make this course as successful as possible, and stressed how important it is to be the best engineers we can. She does not want us to make costly mistakes in our future careers that negatively impact other people’s lives. This professor is fantastic.”

Dr. Spear joined the faculty in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Utah in 2014 after completing her graduate studies at Cornell University. To learn more about Spear and her research group, visit the website for her lab, the Multiscale Mechanics & Materials Laboratory.