Navigation Content
University of Wisconsin - Madison College of Engineering
You are here:
  1. Home > 
  2. Faculty and staff > 
  3. Faculty and staff award recipients > 
  4. Reynolds Award > 
  5. Eric Hellstrom
Photo of Eric Hellstrom.

Eric Hellstrom
Professor of Materials Science and Engineering

His colleagues describe Materials Science and Engineering Professor Eric Hellstrom's teaching as "exceptionally imaginative, inspiring, interactive and inclusive," and call him a mentor and positive influence both in the classroom and via informal interactions with students. "He is the kind of person that merely by being around him, you feel as though you can accomplish more than you believed," says a former student.

Shortly after it began, Hellstrom joined UW-Madison's Creating a Collaborative Learning Environment program, a time-consuming endeavor that helps committed faculty improve their teaching by understanding how students learn. As a result, he made a number of effective changes to all his courses to increase student participation and understanding.

Characteristic of Hellstrom's approach to teaching is in-depth, hands-on interaction — and never time-minimization. In his introduction to materials course, students learn via "controlled destruction": They disassemble boom boxes and study each component see how materials science enables modern technology. "He is not only introducing the concepts and skills, he is deeply committed to helping the students formulate theiruncertainties and to express their ideas, both orally and in class discussion, but first of all one-on-one as the experiment takes place," says a former student.

As an instructor in the college's introduction to engineering course, and as an advisor for student presenters in the university's ESTEAM and SOAR programs for high school students, Hellstrom demystifies materials science and engineering for potential students. "His ability to convey to us the excitement of the materials field was a major factor in my decision to pursue MS&E here," says a former student. Hellstrom, who worked for five years at Sandia National Labs, joined the department in 1985. Since then, he has taught or guest-lectured in 15 different courses and, despite the extra work, has taught courses for faculty on sabbatical and volunteered to teach courses vacated by retirees — all with high student evaluations.

"Professor Hellstrom taught me not with a PowerPoint presentation or with board and chalk," says a former student. "Now, as a professor myself, I can say that I can partially 'blame' him for my decision to join the academia."