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Two from College of Engineering honored with teaching awards

Two faculty members from the College of Engineering have been chosen to receive the university's highest teaching award.

James Blanchard, associate professor of engineering physics, and Steven Cramer, professor of civil and environmental engineering, were among seven faculty members recognized by the university for its 2002 Distinguished Teaching Award.

"We're delighted that two of our faculty members have been chosen for this notable award," says Paul Peercy, dean of the College of Engineering. " Jake Blanchard and Steve Cramer are first-rate teachers who inspire students every day."

Recipients of the Distinguished Teaching Award receive $5,000. They will also be honored at a public ceremony April 23 at 3:30 p.m. at the Pyle Center.

James P. Blanchard, associate professor of engineering physics, Chancellor's Award

James P. Blanchard

James P. Blanchard (large image)

Colleagues and students alike agree that James Blanchard has revolutionized the teaching of computer science and problem-solving skills to engineers. He has pioneered the teaching of computing to engineering students so that they can focus more easily on solving problems and applying solutions to the real world. He has been on the frontier of delivering instruction via the Internet, notably in the College of Engineering's master's of engineering in professional practice, a degree available to working engineers entirely via distance learning.

However, Blanchard has not forsaken traditional classroom instruction. Since he joined the engineering physics faculty in 1988, he has taught every level from freshmen to Ph.D. students; in addition, he has received three UW System grants to introduce Wisconsin high school and two-year college students to basic engineering.

Grounding all his instruction firmly in practical application is critical to Blanchard's success as a teacher, he says. An expert in radiation damage and fusion technology, Blanchard has won the Polygon Outstanding Teaching Award from engineering students three times.

Steven M. Cramer, professor, civil and environmental engineering, Chancellor's Award

Steven M. Cramer

Steven M. Cramer (large image)

When the World Trade Center went down, engineers all over the world began thinking more urgently about how to design buildings that would withstand new sources of stress, in addition to the traditional ones of wind, snow, earthquakes, fire and normal daily use.

Steven Cramer and his students also ponder these issues. "The buildings we live and work in shape our environment and our lives," Cramer says. "We have been reminded that structures and materials are not inert. After Sept. 11, I think my students have shown a new commitment to preparing themselves for the future responsibility of building design and construction.

"Sept. 11 again reminded students that structures can and do fail for reasons that may or may not be preventable, but when they do fail, human lives will be impacted or even taken. We can design buildings with more stringent structural requirements, but as a society (we) need to consider whether we're willing to pay the cost to construct buildings for ill-defined threats."