Dr. Yazan Manna of the Department of Mechanical Engineering has been honored by the Student Government Association with the Distinguished Teaching Award during the 2013 Student Leadership Awards Brunch hosted by the Office of Student Life. The award recognizes faculty who have gone above and beyond in the classroom, based on feedback from students who have taken their classes. Dr. Manna was nominated by Dr. Constantin Chassapis, Vice Provost of Academics, and Dr. Frank Fisher, Interim Director of the Department of Mechanical Engineering.
According to Dr. Chassapis, “Dr. Manna excels at building an open dialogue with his students, which creates a tremendously rich learning environment. The engagement and high level of aptitude of his students demonstrate that he is a fine educator, and his Distinguished Teaching Faculty Award is well deserved.”
“It is remarkable how many students have noted Dr. Manna’s approachability, responsiveness and understanding of their perspective,” says Dr. Fisher. “They emerge from his classes with great confidence as well as comprehension of the material.
Dr. Manna’s philosophy is that class questions are one of the best ways of gauging his students’ level of understanding, allowing him to focus his instruction on any gaps in knowledge. At the beginning of a semester, students tend to fear that their questions are not intelligent or perceptive enough to be heard. He therefore works hard to make it clear that he is open to all questions inside or outside the classroom and that no one should leave with unresolved questions. He says, “I remember when I was a student and felt uncertain about a topic, and I encourage my students to ask as many questions as they need in order to feel confident about their grasp of a subject.”
Comments from students who have taken his class reflect his focus on responding thoughtfully to inquisitiveness. One student notes, “Dr. Manna understands the student's perspective very well... [From a comment I made] about a problem, he knew where my misunderstanding was and by anticipation he explained exactly what I needed.”
Dr. Manna builds confidence in his pupils through the resulting free exchange of ideas. A student reviewer states, “I honestly loved this class, I think I learned so much and reinforced the fact that I want to be a Mechanical Engineer.”
Dr. Manna has taught Mechanical Engineering classes that include Mechanisms, CAD and Machine Design. He will be teaching Mechanics of Human Movement in the Fall.