College of engineering professors honored as ‘inspirational and transformational’ mentors

Chamitoff/KurwitzTwo professors from the Texas A&M College of Engineering at Texas A&M University were honored as “inspirational and transformational” mentors during the inaugural Center for Teaching Excellence Aggies Celebrate Teaching! – Recognizing Transformational Learning reception in May.

Dr. Gregory Chamitoff, professor of engineering practice in the Department of Aerospace Engineering was nominated by Mauricio Coen, a graduate student in aerospace engineering, and Dr. Cable Kurwitz, senior lecturer in the Department of Nuclear Engineering, was nominated by Jared Lilly, a freshman engineering major.

Overall, six faculty were chosen for the award out of more than 60 submissions. Students across all colleges wrote essays giving evidence of, and reflecting upon the professor’s impact on their learning and lives. The event was the fulfillment of the vision of center leadership to celebrate faculty across all colleges for their impact on students through transformational teaching practices.

The students shared their stories of complex and rigorous content, taught using visual examples, assumptions that were continuously challenged and positively changed, and integrating real-world challenges like technical failures to require students to complete necessary calculations by hand.

“When I received the request for nominations, I thought it was pretty obvious that (Chamitoff) deserved my best effort to write an essay that exemplified his teaching abilities,” said Coen. “The most impressive characteristic of his mentorship is his ability to lead students toward previously unrecognized opportunities, opening rare, but profoundly impactful doors and inviting students to step into them. He's paving the way allowing students to learn by example and interaction in the many classes and projects he teaches.”

“(Kurwitz) taught me the how to think critically, which helped me a lot in not only his class, but also my other math and science courses,” said Lilly. “Also, he taught me the importance of taking initiative whether it was simply getting prepared for class or getting involved in an organization. Lastly, he also shared his wisdom on the need to not only work hard in college, but also make some great memories and have a good time.”

In addition to Chamitoff and Kurwitz, the following professors were honored for their transformational teaching practices:

• Gary Boldt, College of Architecture, nominated by Bo Hawthorne, senior construction science major

• Dr. Heidi Campbell, College of Liberal Arts, nominated by Lauren Mathews, senior telecommunication media studies major

• Dr. Scott Cummings, College of Agriculture & Life Sciences, nominated by Jodi Nerren, graduate student in agriculture leadership, education and communication

• Dr. Jake Mowrer, College of Agriculture & Life Sciences, nominated by Vanessa Limon, senior plant & environmental soil sciences major