UB Teaching Innovation Award

Established in 2003 to honor exceptional educational pedagogy, this award is presented to faculty who have contributed significantly to engaging students with new methods and approaches to teaching. The award recognizes faculty members whose innovative teaching methods have a demonstrable effect on enhancing student learning-outcomes.

2019-20 Honorees

Varun Chandola

Department of Computer Science and Engineering

Recipient of the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences’ Early Career Faculty Teaching Award, Varun Chandola, PhD, is renowned for his innovative teaching strategies, especially for large section courses. For his students, he offers a unique experience that includes live (on-screen and physical) demonstrations that connect machine learning (ML) concepts to real-life experiences. Outside the classroom, students interact to better understand how ML algorithms work, and participate as data generators and decision-makers in “live experiments” to experience how an ML algorithm “thinks.”

Aaron Estes

Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

Aaron Estes, PhD, is an excellent teacher who has significantly improved student engagement and outcomes through his experiential, game-based innovations. Among his contributions, he developed motion simulator exercises in the Road Vehicle Dynamics course, the results of which he published through the Interservice/Industry Training, Simulation and Education Conference. In addition, he implemented a variety of game-based exercises in the Dynamic Systems course including an escape room, a transient dynamics puzzle game, and a slinky game based on frequency response principles.

Jessica S. Kruger

Department of Community Health and Health Behavior

Jessica Kruger, PhD, is a health educator whose research focuses on consumption and addictive behaviors, health behavior decision making, and pedagogy in public health. An innovative and enthusiastic teacher, she is renowned for employing leading-edge new technologies and approaches to engage students in her classes. In fall 2018, she received wide attention for leading the 75 undergraduates enrolled in her Models and Mechanisms for Understanding Public Health course in a semester-long effort to author their own open access educational resource textbook on public health.

Jun Zhuang

Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering

Jun Zhuang, PhD, is lauded for his teaching innovations that lead to increased engagement, inclusiveness and flexibility in his courses. He designed his Decision Analysis course in a massive open online course format while also offering both online and in-person recitations and facilitated remote group projects. In addition, he taught Undergraduate Research and Individual Problems courses in collaboration with his large and diverse research group, an unusual approach that introduced undergraduates to experienced researchers and enabled more personal attention for students.