Engineering Faculty Member Awarded Provost’s Inaugural Online Teaching Award



By Simon Morrow
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Harry Smith, industry assistant professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering, was awarded Illinois Institute of Technology’s inaugural Provost’s Award for Online Teaching. 

The award identifies faculty who have adapted to the circumstances of the past year—due to the coronavirus pandemic, most courses have followed an online or hybrid model—and created exceptional online learning experiences in the fall 2020 semester. Representatives from the Undergraduate Studies Committee, Graduate Studies Committee, and the Center for Learning Innovation reviewed student nominations to make the final selection.

In total, students nominated 134 Illinois Tech faculty for the award. “The response was remarkable and highlighted the tremendous work online being done by our faculty during this rather unprecedented semester,” says Illinois Tech Provost Peter Kilpatrick.

In their nomination comments, students said Smith was creative and flexible with his course materials, creating an engaging and positive learning environment. “Professor Smith does everything in his power to take down the barrier that is the computer screen and creates a classroom setting wherever the students tune in from,” said one student. Smith uses a dynamic digital whiteboard and vibrant Slack channels to bring students together during online learning.

While teaching Aircraft Flight Mechanics, Aerospace Laboratory I, and the aerospace section of Introduction to the Profession, Smith says he worked hard to create online systems that would help him build relationships with students despite not being able to meet in person. “To have the students recognize that and appreciate it is really humbling. It’s lovely to see,” says Smith, “The relationship that I’ve got with those students is what’s kept me going, it’s all been for them.”

Kilpatrick also gave an honorable mention to Karl Stolley, associate professor of digital writing and rhetoric and of information technology and management, who also received many nominations from students.  

Photo: A screenshot of Industry Assistant Professor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Harry Smith teaching an online course