Carnegie Mellon University

Eberly Center

Teaching Excellence & Educational Innovation

2017-2018 Wimmer Faculty Fellows

We are pleased to announce the 2017-2018 Wimmer Faculty Fellows. These fellowships are made possible by a grant from the Wimmer Family Foundation and are designed for junior faculty members interested in enhancing their teaching through concentrated work designing or re-designing a course, innovating new materials, or exploring a new pedagogical approach. Fellows work in close collaboration with Eberly Center colleagues and receive a stipend to acknowledge the work it takes to improve one's effectiveness as an educator.

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Sarah Christian

Assistant Teaching Professor

Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering

Carnegie Institute of Technology

Sarah is re-engineering Materials Lab, a junior-level core undergraduate course in Civil & Environmental Engineering. Currently, students learn about the properties and behavior of common civil engineering materials through hands-on laboratory exercises. However, the current lab format is prescriptive: students follow a series of steps to test materials according to standard testing procedures and write a laboratory report to present their results and discuss their conclusions. However, the exercises do not challenge students to “think like engineers”. Sarah is redesigning these laboratory experiences to be more open-ended, inquiry-based experiences. Students will be presented with scenarios or problems that require students to think critically about which material properties are relevant, design experiments, and interpret the data they collect to make engineering decisions. She aims to measure the extent to which this approach enhances students’ comprehension of fundamental concepts and ability to apply them to real-world engineering problems encountered in the field.

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Stefan Gruber

Assistant Professor

Department of Architecture

College of Fine Arts

In Case Studies in Architecture and Cities, Stefan’s students examine Pittsburgh school buildings through a variety of lenses. For example, in addition to looking at the physical design of the space, students look at the social and political issues surrounding the impact and use of the building as well as the environmental systems that allow it to function (e.g., water sources for drinking fountains). Stefan takes a case studies approach to this analysis by assigning groups of students different Pittsburgh school buildings. While extremely valuable in terms of depth, this approach is limited in breadth because each student only explores one school’s context. Therefore, Stefan aims to use a web-based platform that will enable his students to both share their own case study analysis as well as to learn from other students’ projects. This new approach will also encourage students to “recognize patterns, generalize findings, and transfer knowledge to other contexts”, preparing students use these synthesis skills in their future architectural studies and designs.

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Joshua Bard

Assistant Professor

Department of Architecture

College of Fine Arts

Joshua is developing a new upper-level studio course in the School of Architecture (SoA) entitled Low Relief. In this course, students will learn how to “couple material exploration with virtual, media-based experimentation”, with a special emphasis on plaster. With the support of the School of Architecture Robotics Lab, students will use robots to develop and test novel plastering techniques. Students will also gain experience with physical and virtual plastering prototypes. Joshua plans to partner with community organizations to allow students to publically display the work that they create. In doing so, Joshua aims to “demonstrate the nature of architectural studio education to the public and to afford unique interactions and feedback for students that would not be possible on campus.”

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Maryam Saeedi

Assistant Professor

Tepper School of Business

Maryam is creating a new course titled Designing the Digital Economy that she will teach in the Fall 2017. This course will enhance students' knowledge in basic economics through the analysis of real-world scenarios. Specifically, the course will encourage discussions on how the application of basic economics principles would work or need to be modified to fit the digital economy, with its unique challenges and advantages. The course will feature both economics and computer science majors who will collaborate on group projects around the digital economy. In the classroom, Maryam wants to implement active learning techniques alongside case-based learning to help students better relate fundamental concepts to real world applications. Since the digital economy is a relatively new area of scholarship, she intends to write case studies from scratch to use in her class. With the assistance of the Eberly Center, Maryam will measure changes in student learning and obtain student feedback through the semester.

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Alexa Woloshyn

Assistant Professor

College of Fine Arts

Alexa teaches Music History III: 20th Century, a junior-level course in the School of Music. In previous iterations, the course took a traditional approach to music history, frustrating students by focusing primarily on white, Western, male figures whose work does not fully represent the innovative and influential music they love. As a lover of 20th Century music, Alexa is interested in challenging the traditional historiography of music history in this course by incorporating more diverse perspectives into the content. She also plans to leverage inquiry-based learning strategies, active learning, case studies, and writing assignments to help students “develop questions based on their interests and knowledge gaps, and then answer them through individual and group research.”