Congratulations to the 2019 College of Engineering’s Teaching and Staff Awards recipients! The awards, which are handed out annually for outstanding work in the college, were announced during the dean’s fall faculty meeting Aug. 16. Find the full list here.
COE Outstanding Teacher – Michael Czabaj  – Assistant Professor, Mechanical Engineering

Prof. Czabaj’s genuine passion for his students is obvious as time after time we witness him hauling props and demos into the classroom. In teaching mechanics of materials in his Strength of Materials class, this can be done quite effectively by showing students, with simple props and demos, how and why things deform and fail the way they do. The effective use of visual aids is probably one the most frequent comments found within the student survey comments.

Additionally, he supplements his course materials with additional online video tutorials and problem solutions helpful to his students’ ability to grasp the complex and difficult subject matter. Regarding his Composite Materials class, he responded to student requests for more material on numerical analysis by recording a set of online tutorials. This is above and beyond the already well packed coursework – a successful supplementation that does not interfere with the well-established flow of the class.

Popular student comments received within the instructor and course evaluations:

  • “He created an environment that was safe to ask questions, and that questions along with discussions were encouraged.”
  • “His knowledge and enthusiasm regarding the subject, combined with effective communication, created a very ideal learning environment and experience.”
  • “Lectures were captivating and very helpful.”
  • “His use of examples, videos, and demonstrations helped me better understand the mechanics and manufacturing of composites.”
  • “The foam noodle and the column examples were really helpful to be able to picture what is actually going on.”
  • “I felt that Dr. Czabaj really cared about helping his students understand the concepts and skills.”
  • “He is always motivated, organized, and straightforward; he is a tough professor, but fair.”
  • “Real world examples and pointing out courses and fields related to what we were studying was cool.”
  • “Prof. Czabaj is one of the best teachers I’ve had at the University, and this was by far one of my favorite courses.”