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Amoco Undergraduate Teaching Award
Noel C. Perkins

Since joining the Department of Mechanical Engineering faculty in 1987, Noel C. Perkins has taught more than 1,500 students. Many of them rank his classes among the best of their undergraduate careers. As one former student attests, “Armed with a piece of chalk and an eraser, Prof. Perkins transformed the normal classroom environment into a world of virtual learning and exciting adventures in mechanical engineering.”

Graduate student instructors cite Perkins’ lecturing style as one they want to emulate—dynamic, knowledgeable and accessible, never forgetting what it is like to be an undergraduate confronting the material for the first time. And through his tireless advising and mentoring, Perkins’ devotion to undergraduate education benefits even those students who never sit in his classroom.

One example of Perkins’ creativity involves the construction of mechanical “frogs” by first-year engineering students who are learning basic principles of engineering mechanics. This innovative project was the subject of a Chicago Tribune article, and the completed frogs were donated to local middle schools to support science education. An accomplished researcher in dynamics and vibrations, Perkins illustrates concepts with examples from his real-world experience. His students feel confident that the skills they learn in his classrooms will be relevant in future internships and jobs.

In 1995–96, Perkins helped develop the Mechanical Engineering Learning Center, a 1,000-square-foot space where undergraduates can go for one-on-one tutoring and advising. Similar centers are now being planned in the departments of aerospace and chemical engineering to support their own tutoring efforts.

Since 1999, Perkins has directed Mechanical Engineering’s Undergraduate Program, and in this capacity oversees advising for about 750 mechanical engineering students. His passion for teaching has garnered him wide recognition, such as the Arthur F. Thurnau Professorship, Ruth and Joe Spira Outstanding Teaching Award, Faculty Recognition Award and the Tau Beta Pi Professor of the Year Award. He is a fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and an associate editor of the Journal of Applied Mechanics.

Michael A. Savageau
Lawrence Sklar
Kensell D. Wise
Robert E. Lewis
Don B. Clewell
Andrew F. Nagy
Jeffrey R. Parsons
Julia Adams
Richard D. Woods
Fred C. Adams
Photios G. Ioannou

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