Carnegie Mellon University
May 24, 2017

David Anderson Recognized with Julius Ashkin Award for His Outstanding Devotion to Teaching

By Emily Payne

David Anderson Recognized with Julius Ashkin Award for His Outstanding Devotion to Teaching

In the classroom, Assistant Teaching Professor of Physics David Anderson captures his students’ attention and brings excitement to the world of physics. Outside of the lecture hall, Anderson is committed to continually improving both the classes he teaches and the curriculum of the Department of Physics. Respected by his colleagues, peers and, most importantly, his students, Anderson has been awarded the Julius Ashkin Teaching Award.

Anderson arrived at Carnegie Mellon in 2008 primarily to assist with teaching introductory physics laboratory courses. His role in the department and his breadth of teaching have expanded greatly, reflecting his invaluable contributions to the Carnegie Mellon community.

Recognized as an innovator in the classroom and the laboratory, Anderson has worked closely with Barry Luokkala, director of the undergraduate laboratory program, to revise the lab manuals for the introductory laboratory courses. He is presently working with others in the department to develop changes to the curriculum that will teach physics in the context of other majors.

Anderson has expanded his teaching repertoire to include Physics I for Engineering Students, one of the department’s largest introductory lecture courses. Eager to introduce new curricular approaches and ideas, Anderson submitted proposed changes to the course to which Helmut Vogel, professor of physics, writes, “Within just days of our brainstorming, David presented to me a draft course outline in remarkable detail so ingenious and ready to use that I adopted it in nearly unchanged form and, by all indications, with success.” Anderson also worked to enhance the Basic Experimental Physics course to make the material more relevant for students in the Health Professions Program, who often encounter physics problems on the MCAT exam.

Where Anderson shines brightest is in his classes. Colleagues call him the “quintessential teacher” for his dedication, passion and hard work as both a teacher and mentor. One former student writes that Anderson “was very approachable and made an environment in the classroom that was always open to student questions, input and interaction.” Another student admired the care and respect Anderson shows to all his students writing, “It was vital to me to find a professor that would show me that they cared about me and my future.”

The Julius Ashkin Teaching Award is presented to a faculty member who has shown unusual devotion and effectiveness in teaching undergraduate students.