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Singh receives NAGS Graduate Teaching Award

Tarun Singh (second from left) poses with other recipients of NAGS awards during NAGS' annual meeting April 7 in New York City. Photo: Courtesy of NAGS

By SUE WUETCHER

Published April 25, 2017

Tarun Singh, professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering, is the recipient of the NAGS Graduate Teaching Award (master’s level) in recognition of his excellence and creativity in the teaching of graduate students.

The award emphasizes excellence in pedagogy, including classroom-based and/or distance learning instruction.

Founded in 1975, NAGS (the Northeastern Association of Graduate Schools) is one of the four regional affiliates that comprise the national Council of Graduate Schools, the only national organization in the United States dedicated solely to the advancement of graduate education and research.

Graham Hammill, vice provost for graduate education and dean of the UB Graduate School, put forth the nomination of Singh to NAGS, calling him “a model for his colleagues here and at other colleges and universities that are involved in the education and training of master’s students.”

“Professor Singh stands at the very forefront of faculty in terms of his profound and positive influence on the lives of all graduate students with whom he comes in contact,” Hammill wrote in his letter to NAGS, noting that it’s “especially noteworthy and gratifying” to read the letters in support of Singh’s nomination from his former students.

One of those students, Aaron Estes, who received a PhD in mechanical engineering last September, pointed to the quality of Singh’s courses. “I have taken more courses with Dr. Singh than any other professor during my graduate career; this is not by accident,” Estes wrote in a supporting letter. “I intentionally enroll in his courses whenever possible because I have grown accustomed to their exceptional quality. I know that a ‘Singh course’ not only enhances my understanding of a topic of study, but improves my ability to think about problems in general,” he wrote.

Kemper Lewis, professor and chair of the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, submitted Singh’s name to the Graduate School as UB’s nomination for the NAGS award. In his letter of nomination, Lewis noted that he has worked closely with Singh for more than 20 years and “can with confidence say that his contributions to graduate education in the field of dynamics and controls have been extraordinary and exemplary.”

Singh, he wrote, “has consistently embodied everything that is scholarly excellence through his record of educational innovation, publication, funding, impact and dissemination. He truly has helped develop an education research program in the dynamics and controls area that continues to be one of international acclaim and sustained distinction,” Lewis said. “He is an educator of great impact who is an exemplar for many faculty members, including myself.”

Lewis praised Singh’s commitment to mentoring master’s students, noting that 48 of his MS students have graduated with the thesis option, and 14 more students with the project option. “This is a rate of almost three a year, which is extraordinary in his field and relative to others in the School of Engineering,” Lewis wrote, noting that many of these students have gone on to become highly successful in their fields.

Another of Singh’s colleagues, D. Joseph Mook, professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering, called Singh “spectacularly deserving of recognition for his work with MS students.”

“It’s the combination of Tarun’s scholarship with his unbridled enthusiasm and gifted personality traits for working with students that make him deserving of this award,” Mook wrote in his letter of support. “His friendly and welcoming demeanor invites students to approach him, and they do so in droves. He provides personal and scholarly advice to many students within our field, whether or not they become his own advisees,” he said. “Without question, he has essentially rescued a number of struggling students over the years by providing crucial scholarly and/or personal support to them at a crucial stage early in their graduate studies, whether or not they eventually become his advisees.”

Singh joined the UB faculty in 1993 after serving as an assistant research engineer in Texas A&M’s aerospace engineering department. His research interests include dynamics and control, nonlinear control, optimal control, flexible structures, nonlinear estimation, data assimilation, system identification and optimization.

He is a fellow of AAAS and the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, and an associate fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics. He is the recipient of numerous awards, among them a von Humboldt Fellowship, two Riefler awards and SAE’s Ralph R. Teetor Educational Award.

A prolific scholar, Singh has published 70 articles in professional journals, has won numerous “best paper” awards and delivered dozens of invited seminars at many of the world’s most prestigious universities and research organizations.