Engineering Professors Chosen as Top Teachers
Two College of Engineering faculty members have been recognized with 1996 Distinguished Teaching Awards from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Michael L. Corradini, a professor of Engineering Physics, and John G. Webster, a professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, were each presented the Chancellor's Award. This honor recognizes instructors who have made profound contributions to the art and science of university teaching, and inspired their students by embodying the joy of learning, demonstrating through their own lives how powerful a force education can be.
Brian Huxtable, a nuclear engineer with Wisconsin Power & Light, had Corradini as both an advisor and a professor during his undergraduate and graduate study. He says Corradini "changed my perspective on problem solving. He stressed that to solve a problem you have to concentrate on the method of solution, rather than just the results. This was a valuable lesson that I use today in my career as I write calculations. With the stress on documentation in the nuclear industry, you have to make sure the reviewer understands everything about what you did."
Corradini takes particular pride in demonstrating how engineers solve problems. He was instrumental in establishing the College of Letters and Science freshman series "Ways of Knowing," which introduces beginning scholars to the methods of different academic disciplines.
An expert in fission reactor design and safety, Corradini grew up in Albuquerque, N.M., and joined the engineering faculty in 1981. Now an associate dean of the College of Engineering with responsibility for advanced standing students, he earned his PhD and MS from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and his BS from Marquette University.
Students in Webster's "Medical Instrumentation" course experiment with electrocardiogram machines and defibrillators, and graduate students taking "Biomedical Instrumentation" solve real-world problems and are able to publish their findings. This practical approach also extends to Webster's open-book exams.
Says senior Dean Skuldt, "This is meant to prepare students for the real world, where one is able to use any source available, but must know how to use given information in order to solve a problem or create new designs. I found this approach instructive and sensible. Once out of school, people need to be able to teach themselves in order to stay in touch with new technologies."
Webster put his own problem-solving ability to the test when he volunteered to redesign four of five laboratory courses in his department to provide a uniform lab experience for all students. He responded to the challenge by organizing the courses around learning goals, which were evaluated by practical bench tests rather than written exams.
Joining the UW-Madison faculty in 1967, Webster received his PhD and MSEE from the University of Rochester, and his BEE from Cornell University.