Professor Stephen Nonnenmann of the Mechanical and Industrial Engineering (MIE) Department was one of two winners of the UMass College of Engineering Outstanding Teaching Award for 2019. The other winner was Professor John Tobiason of the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department. Both of these highly accomplished teachers, researchers, and academics have made a lasting impact on the education of the engineering workforce for many years to come.
“Professor Nonnenmann has clearly established himself as one of the best young teachers in the department and the college,” said MIE Department Head Sundar Krishnamurty, “as evidenced by the student evaluations and letters of support reflecting his innovative pedagogical initiatives, his outstanding mentoring activities, and his overall contributions to the teaching mission of the department, the college, and the university.”
As Nonnenmann has said, “Engaging the continuously inquisitive minds of engineering students requires a careful, innovative approach to presenting a flexible curriculum within a strongly supportive and enthusiastic classroom environment.”
In that context, as Krishnamurty noted, Nonnenmann has embodied that supportive and enthusiastic attitude in environments as diverse as lab courses in which students expect hands-on engagement, large undergraduate courses with over 200 students apiece, or specialty graduate courses requiring a mastery of state-of-the-art subject knowledge. “Professor Nonnenmann has actively and aggressively done everything possible to make sure that the students not only appreciate the learning process, but also leave with a lasting impression of their important role as the next generation of engineers,” said Krishnamurty.
As one of Nonnenmann’s students observed, “My experience both in the class and as a teaching assistant showed me that he was a professor who cared about his students and wanted them to succeed, doing everything in his power to allow the latter to occur.”
Another of Nonnenmann’s students explained that “You can feel the passion he has for the success of the students in our college, and we applaud him for going the extra mile to make our college experience an impactful one.”
The comments from the faculty in support of his nomination further highlighted Professor Nonnenmann’s extraordinary commitment to excellence in teaching. Take this comment from a prior COE Teacher of the Year award winner: “I have never before met someone who can translate a passion for cutting-edge research and the scientific process so seamlessly into classes at any level; from introductory material science classes and labs all the way to advanced graduate classes. His level of preparation and commitment to his classes is awe-inspiring…Even in a class of 200 students, he knows the majority of their names!” (April 2019)