MMAE Associate Professor Carrie Hall Receives the Bauer Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching Award



By Mary Ceron-Reyes

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Associate Professor Carrie Hall

Carrie Hall, associate professor in the Department of Mechanical, Materials, and Aerospace Engineering, was recently awarded the Bauer Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching Award as part of Illinois Institute of Technology’s 2020 Excellence in Teaching Awards recognizing faculty achievements across the university.

Hall’s research focuses on the modeling and control of advanced internal combustion engines, and the development of clean and efficient utilization of alternative fuels. She teaches courses in the areas of dynamics and controls as well as thermal science. Additionally, Hall has supervised 13 undergraduate research students, including six within the last three years.

Department Chair and Professor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Sumanta Acharya says that Hall is highly deserving of this teaching award and is one of the best teachers in the department, which enrolls more than 500 undergraduate students. Acharya notes that Hall’s undergraduate teaching merited a superlative average of 4.82 out of 5 in student evaluations over the past three years, with an average class size of 49 among her nine course offerings. In two of these courses she earned averages of 4.95 and 4.92 with 24 and 39 students responding, respectively.

Acharya shares that Hall’s high instructor evaluations in larger undergraduate courses is a testament to her teaching excellence. He adds, “[Associate Professor] Carrie Hall is an exemplary teacher and is regarded by students as one of the best professors in Illinois Tech. I am delighted that she has won the Bauer Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching Award.”

While courses in thermodynamics and control typically tend to be more focused on theory, Hall strives to make the material more engaging for students.

“In the core undergraduate courses that I have taught, I always try to remind my students of the big picture and show them why the theoretical concept they are learning actually matters in the real world,” says Hall. “I believe it is critical in all of my courses to ensure that students understand both the fundamentals as well as the applications of the methods they are learning.”

Since joining the department in 2013, Hall has been highly regarded as an exemplary teacher as described in an excerpt from a fall 2019 teaching evaluation: “[Associate Professor] Hall is one of the best professors I have had the pleasure of learning from. Not only from Illinois Tech, but also from the school I transferred from. She writes her own notes, explains things thoroughly, and is fantastic with questions. Other instructors should take note of how well [Associate Professor] Hall is doing with her courses, and meet the standard that she sets.”

Hall reflects back on how she was originally drawn to Illinois Tech because of the outstanding instructors and says that she was most impressed with how faculty “valued excellent research as well as excellent teaching.”

Overall, Hall shares that she loves the enthusiasm and fresh outlook exemplified by students.

“I hope they learn something, but—more than that—they see how what they are doing can impact the world around them,” she says.