Helen Reed wins Presidential Professor for Teaching Excellence Award

Photo of Dr. Helen ReedDr. Helen Reed, professor in the Department of Aerospace Engineering in the Dwight Look College of Engineering, was one of two faculty members named recipients of the 2013 Presidential Professor for Teaching Excellence Award, the most prestigious faculty honor bestowed by Texas A&M University. 

Announcement of the 2013 recipients of the award, which includes a $25,000 stipend to each winner and the lifetime title of “Presidential Professor for Teaching Excellence,” was made by Texas A&M President R. Bowen Loftin. Dr. Lawrence Brown, instructional assistant professor of chemistry in the College of Science, was the second honoree.

“Dr. Brown and Dr. Reed personify the teaching qualities that we value so highly at Texas A&M — caring for students, being dedicated and innovative and being leaders in their fields,” Loftin said.  “They join a growing number of distinguished faculty who have had bestowed on them this special designation — the university’s highest form of recognition for teaching excellence.”

The Presidential Professor for Teaching Excellence Award was established in 2003 to underscore the importance of teaching at a major research university, Loftin noted.

The two professors selected for the awards this year will be formally introduced at the university’s spring commencement ceremonies at which their respective colleges will award degrees.

Reed, professor in the Department of Aerospace Engineering, joined the Texas A&M faculty in 2004 and served as department head for four years before returning to teaching and research on a full-time basis.

One of her former students, who studied under her at another university before following her to Texas A&M, wrote in support of her nomination: “I could not imagine pursuing graduate studies under any other professor. She inspires her students to undertake great endeavors, provides endless optimism and encouragement, and empowers undergrads and grads alike to achieve their every goal.”

Widely regarded as an expert in hypersonics, energy efficient aircraft and small satellite design, Reed has led research projects totaling millions of dollars and is a member of the National Research Council’s Aeronautics and Space Engineering Board. She has received numerous professional awards and honors.

With teaching and mentoring students as top priorities, Reed has directed 16 doctoral students, 31 master’s degree students and more than 1,000 undergraduate students during her career.

Colleagues say employers eagerly seek out her students, who are known for being well prepared, with extensive hands-on experience in a demanding profession. One example is the AggieSat Lab Satellite that Reed directs. This includes a partnership with NASA Johnson Space Center and the University of Texas to promote space engineering education and develop new technologies used in space exploration. Through this program, her students designed, launched and operated Texas A&M’s first satellite in 2009, with another mission planned for next year.

Reed earned an A.B. degree in mathematics from Goucher College, and an M.S. and Ph.D. in engineering mechanics from Virginia Tech.

Nominations for the Presidential Professor awards are made by students, faculty members and deans in each of the university’s colleges and schools. Faculty Senate representatives review the nominations submitted by the colleges and schools and narrow the list that is sent to the president for the final selections.