In his first academic job five years ago as assistant professor at the University of Virginia, Gary Koenig took on the course that provides the foundation of chemical engineering. As students’ first exposure to the discipline, it’s a big responsibility because their future success rests on what they learn in “Material and Energy Balances.” He’s done a remarkable job, according to his mentors and colleagues, not to mention students.
For his excellent approach to teaching, Koenig earned a top honor: the UVA Alumni Board of Trustees Teaching Award.
Koenig took advantage of his own learning opportunities through the Center for Teaching Excellence; as part of its Nucleus program he revamped “Material and Energy Balances.” Through the center’s Course Design Institute, he created a new course for undergraduate and graduate students, “Energy Outlook and Technology Options,” filling “a great need in the Engineering School,” his mentor Robert Kelly, AT&T Professor of Engineering, wrote in supporting his nomination.
Koenig organizes his courses around “process and practice-driven outcomes” rather than content material and solutions, he wrote in his teaching statement. He emphasizes how to solve problems, and connects engineering principles to something students can experience in their daily lives by using class demonstrations.
Former chair Roseanne Ford, who is currently undergraduate program coordinator, evaluated Koenig in his first four years, and said that observing his teaching has influenced her own methods. “Gary has been thoughtful and intentional in evolving the courses he teaches and his student teaching evaluations have reflected the value that the students have derived from the learning experiences in his courses.”
Read more about UVA's award-winning teachers.