Tuesday, July 21, 2009

TTU Has "Outstanding" Engineer

Karen Lykins reports that Tennessee Tech University’s Donald Visco has been honored as a national leader in engineering education by the American Society for Engineering Education. Visco, a chemical engineering professor, accepted ASEE’s National Outstanding Teaching Award at a ceremony in Austin, Texas. Each year the award recognizes an engineering or engineering technology educator for excellence in outstanding classroom performance, contributions to the scholarship of teaching, and participation in ASEE Section meetings and local activities.

“An award at this national level is very special and emphasizes the high quality of our College of Engineering,” said TTU interim Dean of Engineering David Huddleston. “We applaud the fact that Dr. Visco is receiving national recognition for his teaching that has influenced and motivated so many students. While such awards primarily recognize the recipient, this also enhances the reputation of our chemical engineering department and the College of Engineering.”

Many of Visco’s efforts speak to the ASEE’s criteria for the award — diverse, extensive and sustained activities. To cultivate students' intrinsic interest in science and engineering, Visco, with the help of his colleagues, created an Introduction to Chemical Engineering course. Students perform simple, hands-on experiments that relate to a chemical engineering concept that they will see later in their curriculum.

Other ways Visco has contributed to engineering education include his formation of a workshop for new engineering faculty on campus related to education, his service as the ASEE campus representative coordinating Brown Bag lunch seminars on educational topics, and his development of the Chemical Engineering Division of the Southeastern Section of ASEE.
Visco mentors students at all levels, from undergraduates to doctoral candidates, in both technical research and, where applicable, education-based scholarship. Additionally, he has developed a model for using graduate students as co-instructors, not just teaching assistants, in undergraduate classes.

Numerous honors validate Visco’s continued commitment to teaching and research. He received the highly prestigious Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers for displaying exceptional potential for leadership. He also won a national award for junior faculty of ASEE’s Chemical Division— the Ray Fahien Award. A 2007 Tennessee Tech Outstanding Faculty Award winner, Visco also was the first TTU faculty member to receive the College of Engineering's Leighton E. Sissom Innovation and Creativity Award as well as the Brown-Henderson Outstanding Engineering Faculty Award in the same year. Visco also provides national service to his discipline as division chairperson of ASEE’s Chemical Engineering Division and as 1st vice chairperson of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers Education Division.