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  5. Gregory F Nellis

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Gregory F. Nellis

Mechanical Engineering

Since joining the College of Engineering in 2001, Greg Nellis has built a reputation as a respected cryogenics researcher. However, his true passion is teaching.

He is a leader in incorporating modern software-based analysis tools into the undergraduate curriculum. He has co-organized several workshops on using Engineering Equation Solver (EES), and his use of EES, MATLAB and Maple software in both his undergraduate and graduate courses allows students to explore complex, real-world problems within thermodynamics and heat transfer. In the absence of a heat transfer textbook that employs software tools, he and Mechanical Engineering Professor Sanford Klein are writing one, scheduled for publication in 2009.

Nellis also overhauled the courses he teaches by writing his own comprehensive notes and homework problem sets, with an emphasis on applied problems and practical solutions. His goal is to galvanize his students to learn. In his lectures, he uses familiar examples, such as contact lenses or icy windshields, to illustrate complex principles.

Says one colleague, “He is the epitome of well-organized and efficient when it comes to course management. When I look for a model of how to design, organize and execute a course, I always think first of Professor Nellis.”

The first time Nellis taught Engineering Measurements Laboratory (ME 368), a required course, he re-wrote the entire manual and replaced the traditional prescriptive projects with open-ended experiments he developed himself—all in the span of one winter break.

With his self-designed homework, efficient lectures, technology use and his commitment to quickly replying to student queries at any time of day (or night), Nellis has turned some of the most dreaded courses in the mechanical engineering curriculum into the highest-evaluated the department has ever offered. In their evaluations, his students consistently assert, “The best class I have ever taken,” “The best teacher I have ever had,” “My favorite class,” and “Give this man a raise!”

“I completed Professor Nellis’ course with the skills and confidence that I could approach real heat transfer problems, apply a range of techniques, and be confident about the level of precision of my solution,” says a former student. “There is little greater an educator can give to those who plan to make a career in solving and understanding technical problems.”

Nellis previously received a 2006 Pi Tau Sigma distinguished professor award and a 2007 Polygon award for teaching.