Cadwell Receives Teaching Excellence Award

May 21, 2015

Professor Katie D. Cadwell, an assistant professor in the Department of Biomedical and Chemical Engineering was honored with Syracuse University’s Teaching Recognition Award at the Meredith Teaching Professor Ceremony on April 13th. Cadwell hit the ground running when she joined the Syracuse engineering faculty in 2011. She was quickly recognized as an energetic, effective, and innovative teacher, and her efforts have benefitted both students and faculty across the university. In the words of Associate Dean Julie Hasenwinkel, “Professor Cadwell has had a profound effect on the chemical engineering undergraduate program.” To date, she has modified two sophomore chemical engineering lecture courses to better utilize online learning tools and to increase student engagement in the classroom, and she has completely redesigned the two chemical engineering laboratory courses to focus less on following directions and more on working effectively in teams, designing experiments, and tackling ill-defined problems with creative solutions—all things that are expected of practicing, “real world” engineers, but are difficult to train in the traditional classroom. Both lab courses also place heavy emphasis on the clear and efficient presentation of data and developing written and oral communication skills. Professor Cadwell is a favorite among engineering undergraduates at Syracuse, and they appreciate the opportunity for out-of-the box learning in her courses. “The presentations and projects in her classes were very important! They tested knowledge but also introduced an element of creativity and collaboration that helped improve my non-technical skills,” said student Connor Daniel in his nomination letter. “Having the skills to communicate with co-workers and present to peers is arguably just as important as any textbook skills that I have learned.” Cadwell is always willing to share her enthusiasm for engineering education, and her efforts have accordingly fostered professional development among her colleagues. According to Dean Hasenwinkel, “Professor Cadwell is the first one to see beyond the barriers and encourage her colleagues to be open-minded and willing to experiment.” She has established a monthly teaching and learning luncheon series that educates professors on innovative methodologies in higher education and supports faculty as they implement new approaches to teaching in their own classrooms. She additionally coordinates a seminar series that brings national leaders in the field of engineering education to Syracuse University to interact with faculty and stimulate new educational initiatives on campus. As to her own vision of an effective teacher, Cadwell offered, “I expect my students to continuously learn and improve their engineering and communication skills, and I expect the same constant improvement from myself. Each time I teach a course I aim to make conscientious and substantial changes to enhance student outcomes. I’m pleased to be part of a College and University that offers encouragement and support for faculty development of teaching.” Cadwell was honored with eight other faculty members from across the University. The Teaching Recognition Award is sponsored by the Meredith Professors to benefit non-tenured faculty members. The award’s specific goals are to recognize excellence in teaching and to encourage a culture of collegial mentoring among members of the Syracuse faculty. In 2014, Cadwell was one of the inaugural winners of the Dean’s Award for Excellence in Engineering Education in the College of Engineering and Computer Science. She was also named the Technology Alliance of Central New York College Educator of the Year last spring.