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University of Wisconsin - Madison College of Engineering
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  5. Susan Hagness


2014 Benjamin Smith Reynolds
Award for Excellence in Teaching



Susan HagnessSusan Hagness
Electrical and Computer Engineering

Susan Hagness is absolute proof that being an exceptional educator, researcher and campus citizen are not mutually exclusive propositions,” says Duane H. and Dorothy M. Bluemke Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering John Booske.

According to Booske, Hagness, the Philip D. Reed professor of electrical and computer engineering, has three characteristics that extend beyond the qualities of just being an effective lecturer. She is committed to teaching improvement, she has a rapport with and quick response to students and she can inspire students and positively impact their learning.

One example of that impact is her development and implementation of InterEGR 102: Introduction to Society’s Engineering Grand Challenges.

In 2007, Hagness developed the course with five other faculty members from multiple departments, and served as the lead instructor in the inaugural offering of the course in 2008. Cross-departmental courses are rare because of the energy, coordination and commitment necessary to make them a success, but InterEGR 102 has continued to be a success, being taught annually through 2010, and every semester since 2011.

“Though I took the course almost six years ago, the lectures taught by Professor Hagness still remain vivid memories to me,” says alum Kaytlyn Beres. “I remember having learned a tremendous amount, and feeling excited about the possibilities for engineering-based solutions.”

Hagness created the course in part because of her desire to make engineering relevant and interesting to a broad cross-section of students. It has been highly effective in attracting a variety of students. In fact, 20 to 30 percent of the students who take InterEGR 102 are not engineers.

She also wanted InterEGR 102 to help recruit and retain women in engineering. Since the course debuted in 2008, the number of women enrolled in it has been consistently around 30 percent—the highest of any introductory engineering course over the past decade. InterEGR 102 even was the focus of a national Society of Women Engineers article. “By developing this innovative, modular, multidisciplinary course, by reaching large numbers of students and faculty, by effectively utilizing technology in a variety of ways to enhance teaching, and by sharing insights on teaching through presentations, she indeed displays excellence for teaching and has contributed enormously to the instruction of engineering students,” says Chemical and Biological Engineering Professor Daniel Klingenberg.