“Take care of people.”
Those four words are taped to the dresser of a former mechanical engineering student, and he credits the mantra to an instructor who has been imparting life and engineering wisdom to students for more than 30 years.
Jay Samuel joined UW–Madison in 1979 and was appointed a senior lecturer in the Departments of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science and Engineering in 1984. A dedicated teacher, Samuel has instructed thousands of students early in their engineering education, and through the years he has remained an effective—and memorable—lecturer.
Samuel consistently carries a heavy teaching load and averages 1,500 student contact hours per year. He has developed several manuals for his courses, including a 300–page course manual for ME 601/ME 427: Materials Selection, which he has continuously updated since first creating it in 1979.
When Samuel took over MSE 350: Introduction to Materials Science in the mid 1980s, he co–developed an innovative computer program to grade the homework sets of the more than 150 students enrolled in the required course every semester. His program, which was the first computer–grading program in the college, included statistics to indicate which concepts students were struggling to understand.
When a newer campus–wide computer grading system was introduced, Samuel reverted back to hand–grading all of his students’ homework to make sure he was keeping in touch with what they were learning. “Jam Samuel has had an extraordinarily positive influence on the quality of teaching in the college—not by talking about quality teaching, but by doing it,” says a colleague.
Students appreciate Samuel’s thorough, hands–on approach. Although high–enrollment, introductory classes generally receive poor student evaluations, students acknowledge Samuel to be an outstanding teacher. Student comments range from the formal “This professor made learning the material enjoyable and interesting” to the more affectionate “Dr. J is money” and “Dr. J rocks.”
His interaction with students extends beyond the classroom. For the past 17 years, Samuel has been the advisor for the UW–Madison chapter of ASME, which has 150 current student members. He has participated in the Camp Badger program, Engineering Expo and Engineering Week—as a dunk tank “volunteer.”
He has received Outstanding Instructor Awards from Polygon and Pi Tau Sigma many times, and in 2000 Samuel received the College of Engineering Bollinger Academic Staff Outstanding Achievement Award.
PAST AWARD RECIPIENTS
- The Ragnar E. Onstad Service to Society Award
- College of Engineering Classified Staff Distinguished Achievement Award
- Bollinger Academic Staff Distinguished Achievement Award
- Byron Bird Award for Excellence in a Research Publication
- Benjamin Smith Reynolds Award for Excellence in Teaching
- James G. Woodburn Award for Excellence in Teaching
- Harvey Spangler Award for Technology-Enhanced Instruction
- John and Jean Berndt Technology Enhanced Learning Initiative