Carnegie Mellon University

Eberly Center

Teaching Excellence & Educational Innovation

2018-2019 Wimmer Faculty Fellows

We are pleased to announce the 2018-2019 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.

Rosalyn Abbott headsotRosalyn Abbott
Assistant Professor
Biomedical Engineering
College of Engineering

Rosalyn is revising the first year course Introduction to Biomedical Engineering (BME). This course helps students explore BME as a potential career path. Currently, the course exposes students to four different subdisciplines within BME, in part through lecture demonstrations of key principles and their applications. Because these demos are passive learning experiences, students do not explicitly experience “thinking like biomedical engineers” solving problems or conducting research. Consequently, Rosalyn is planning to convert the lecture demonstrations into hands-on, inquiry-based laboratory exercises. Student will explore a problem related to each BME subdiscipline that will require critical thinking and problem-solving. Students will be challenged to make and then test predictions by interpreting and explaining data they collect. Exercises include conducting virtual cell culture experiments, creating a testing rig on skin tensility, exploring the purpose and function of different implants, and taking measurements on  echocardiograms.

Robin Mejia HeadshotRobin Mejia
Adjunct Professor
Department of Statistics and Data Science
Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences

To accommodate increased enrollment, Robin is scaling up effective teaching strategies employed in a project-based course called Sampling, Surveys, and Society. In this upper-division undergraduate course, students learn about and apply research methods for designing, implementing, and analyzing surveys to their own semester-long survey project. Enrollment has doubled from 40 to 80 students, creating challenges for both maintaining use of active learning during class meetings and working closely with each project group. Additionally, this course serves students from many academic backgrounds, differing in their experience with statistical methods. Robin is redesigning the course to effectively implement active learning at scale and to strengthen the alignment between classroom activities and the team-based survey project. For example, she aims to incorporate more case study discussions that are relevant to the student projects. Additionally, she plans to leverage technology to provide additional resources to teams and ensure more regular communication and feedback on their projects.

Daphne Peters Headshot

Daphne Peters
Assistant Teaching Professor
School of Design
College of Fine Arts

How do the designs of digital and physical environments interact and impact users of hybrid environments, such as mixed-media museum exhibits? In the School of Design’s sophomore-level Environments Studios and Lab, students investigate this question. Daphne is redesigning the lab component of this course to challenge students to think critically about the role of technology (e.g., mobile devices, sensing, the internet of things) in the user-centered design of physical spaces. Her redesign focuses on implementing two student projects: a design problem and a prototyping assignment. For the design problem, students will develop a digital interface that enhances a person’s physical navigation and/or learning within an exhibition space (e.g., museum). The prototyping project will require students to implement “prototypes of digital interactions” within spaces that they design. Daphne anticipates that students will have a more hands-on learning experience in the course and leave with a better understanding of the discipline as a whole.

Rebecca Taylor HeadshotRebecca Taylor
Assistant Professor
Mechanical Engineering Department
College of Engineering

Rebecca wants to improve the learning experience for Mechanical Engineering students in Engineering Design I: Methods and Skills. Over the past two years she has taught the course using a semi-flipped classroom model. For example, students completed readings before class and then took a pre-class quiz before exploring topics in-depth through a combination of lecture and active learning. Despite reports from students that the course offers invaluable preparation for professional engineering work, students find the course extremely challenging because they must integrate and apply their previous two years of coursework to constrained design projects. Rebecca’s redesign aims to provide more online support to students during pre-class learning activities, to better prepare students for in-class activities and projects. For instance, she plans engage students more actively during pre-class activities, using online tools to provide practice and feedback opportunities. By monitoring student submissions before class meetings, she can check for understanding of key concepts and adjust her teaching and exercises accordingly to meet students’ needs. She also plans to leverage videos created by students in previous semesters to provide targeted, supplemental explanations and examples of difficult concepts after class sessions.

Zachary Ulissi HeadshotZachary Ulissi
Assistant Professor
Chemical Engineering Department
College of Engineering

Zachary will be teaching Chemical and Reactive Systems in Fall 2018, a core course for Chemical Engineering graduate students. Many students entering the course lack the programming experience required to implement complicated numerical methods used in the course, such as computational fluid dynamics simulations, molecular simulations, and process optimization. Zachary will adapt and integrate an introductory sequence of online learning modules for the Python programming language. Additionally, he wishes to adopt elements of flipped classroom techniques to more actively engage students with the most difficult course material, both in and out of the classroom. By developing these complementary teaching strategies, Zachary hopes to enhance students’ development of the computational skills necessary to be successful in careers such as process simulation, engineering data science, or software development.