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Dartmouth Engineer - The Magazine of Thayer School of EngineeringDartmouth Engineer - The Magazine of Thayer School of Engineering

Awards: Vicki May is N.H. Professor of the Year

Engineering Professor Vicki May was named the 2013 New Hampshire Professor of the Year by the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) and the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. CASE and the Carnegie Foundation give the award annually to undergraduate teachers “who excel in teaching and positively influence the lives and careers of students.”

Professor Vicki May
Photograph by Karen Endicott.

May teaches courses in solid mechanics and structural analysis and co-teaches a popular course for non-majors, ENGS 2: Integrated Design: Engineering, Architecture, and Building Technology with studio art Senior Lecturer Jack Wilson.

In all her courses May prefers project work to lectures. “There’s lots of theory and that’s important,” she says, “but being able to tie everything together by actually building something gets students excited and helps them learn, because they see a real context to all the math and science they’ve been doing.” Her course projects have ranged from designing affordable housing for earthquake-devastated Haiti to constructing a wheelchair-accessible tree house in the woods at Hanover’s Storrs Pond Recreation Area.

May earned her M.S. and Ph.D. in civil and structural engineering from Stanford and got her pedagogical start as a teaching assistant there. “I really liked the work,” she says. “Now teaching is my focus, my passion.”

That passion extends to bringing engineering into elementary school, middle school, and high school classrooms. Last summer May organized and ran Thayer School’s first Design It! Build It! workshop, a two-week hands-on introduction to engineering for high school students. She is planning an even more extensive Design It! Build It! workshop for this summer.

“Engineering gives context to math and science,” May says. “You’re never too young to learn about engineering.”

—Alex Arcone

Categories: The Great Hall, Awards

Tags: award, curriculum, faculty

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