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Dr. Tillie McVay
Dr. Tillie McVay is an instructional associate professor of mechanical engineering, teaching statics and dynamics, mechanical measurements and numerical methods. | Image: Texas A&M Engineering

Dr. Tillie McVay wants every one of her students to walk away from her classroom confident in knowing they can become successful engineers — even when the material is challenging and it takes work to achieve that goal. 

"Even if something looks difficult at first, they can approach problems in different ways and figure it out," said McVay, instructional associate professor in the J. Mike Walker '66 Department of Mechanical Engineering at Texas A&M University. "It's a way of thinking about technical problems in the world."

McVay — who has been with the department for more than 16 years — teaches statics and dynamics, mechanical measurements and numerical methods, primarily for sophomore mechanical engineering students. She said one of her favorite parts of teaching is working through challenging concepts and seeing the moment when students begin to understand.

"Teaching is my passion," McVay said. "You can tell by someone's eyes and their reactions if they truly understood what you said."

McVay said she is thankful to be a part of nurturing successful college careers, watching students’ knowledge and confidence grow with each subsequent course until graduation. 

This journey to successful graduation faced new hurtles with the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic and the necessity of online learning — both for teachers and students.

The new challenges made adaptation necessary as students had to work harder to engage with their courses and complete assignments while dealing with new distractions from being at home. On the other hand, instructors pivoted their teaching styles to help encourage interactions and engaged attendance through methods like using in-class polls, break-out rooms, requiring students to have their cameras turned on and implementing classwork due at the end of the period. 

"I had to change the way I taught in Zoom to engage more students and to make sure they attended class," McVay said. "This academic year I am so grateful to be back in front of the students in person. I think the students are grateful to attend in person as well. The teaching experience is so much better for all of us."