Hoboken, N.J. – It was not all that long ago that Dr. Jon Miller – Research Assistant Professor in the Department of Civil, Environmental and Ocean Engineering at Stevens Institute of Technology and a Stevens alumnus from the Class of 1999 – was just a boy fascinated by Stevens Dean Michael Bruno’s explanations on the local news of coastal storm science in wake of powerful northeast hurricanes, tropical storms and nor’easters in the early 1990s.
Since then, Miller – a Stevens alumnus from the Class of 1999 – has earned his B.E. in Civil Engineering from Stevens, his master’s and Ph.D. degrees in Coastal Engineering from the University of Florida, and returned to Stevens to become one of the university’s most accomplished researchers and popular professors.
Miller’s dedication to advancing research in his field and his excellence as an educator were recently recognized by the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), America’s oldest national engineering society. The organization’s New Jersey chapter presented Miller with the Educator of the Year award at the chapter’s 39th Annual Awards Dinner on May 10, 2013. This is the second time Miller has accepted the award – he won it in 2010, as well – which recognizes outsanding educators from New Jersey educational institutions who have contributed substantially to the field of civil engineering.
“I’m very honored,” Miller said. “I’ve been fortunate to have many great teachers in my life and many of them have never won an award for their efforts.”
Miller – who once spent four months riding a GPS-equipped jet ski to assess a Monmouth County beach assessment project – specializes in research on the impacts of coastal storms on beach erosion. He regularly helps state and local officials assess coastal zones and shoreline conditions through his work at the Center for Maritime Systems at Stevens as well as regional scientific groups like the New Jersey Sea Grant Consortium (NJSGC). He even became a nationally-recognized thought leader on shoreline protection, coastal infrastructure resilience and seaside rebuilding and redevelopment after Hurricane Irene and Hurricane Sandy devastated the east coast in back-to-back years, appearing in live interviews on The Weather Channel, Fox News and other networks.
But mostly, Miller’s specialty is directly touching the lives of Stevens students at every level. His undergraduate and graduate courses on civil engineering, naval engineering, ocean engineering and other subjects have inspired scores of future scientists and engineers – Stevens alumni who are now personally advancing knowledge in the field through cutting-edge academic and professional work.
“Dr. Miller stands out as one of the best educators, mentors, and advisers at Stevens,” said Alicia Mahon, Ph.D., a Stevens alumna for whom Miller served as professor and academic advisor. “He is enthusiastic about teaching and mentoring young engineers. Whether he is teaching in the classroom, in the field conducting coastal field experiments, or advising students, he goes out of his way to ensure his students understand the material and feel comfortable asking questions. I can't think of a more deserving educator to receive this award.”
“Dr. Miller’s impact as a teacher at Stevens is immeasurable,” added Stevens Ph.D. student Andrew Rella. “The dedication that he shows to his students is like none I've ever experienced, creating long lasting relationships with both undergraduate and graduate students that continually exposes them to stimulating research projects and having a genuine personal interest in their future professional careers.”
Miller is driven as an educator by seeing “the light bulb go on.”
“When a student is struggling with a topic and they finally get it you can feel their excitement and can’t help get excited as well,” Miller said. “Oftentimes the students don’t even know what they’re capable of. When you push them and they keep breaking past their own perceived boundaries it’s an awesome feeling.”
He loves teaching because every day is different, and that passion is part of what set him apart.
“Students are observant – when you show up excited to teach, they get excited to learn,” Miller said.
He said his students inspire him by not only their classwork, but by the energies they put into outside activities like athletics and community service.
“I hope the inspiration goes both ways,” he said.
About Stevens Institute of Technology
Stevens Institute of Technology, The Innovation University®, is a premier, private research university situated in Hoboken, N.J. overlooking the Manhattan skyline. Founded in 1870, technological innovation has been the hallmark and legacy of Stevens’ education and research programs for more than 140 years. Within the university’s three schools and one college, more than 6,100 undergraduate and graduate students collaborate with more than 350 faculty members in an interdisciplinary, student‐centric, entrepreneurial environment to advance the frontiers of science and leverage technology to confront global challenges. Stevens is home to three national research centers of excellence, as well as joint research programs focused on critical industries such as healthcare, energy, finance, defense and STEM education. The university is the fastest‐rising college in the U.S. News & World Report ranking of the best national universities, and it is consistently ranked among the nation’s elite for return on investment for students, career services programs, and mid‐career salaries of alumni. Stevens is in the midst of a 10‐year strategic plan, The Future. Ours to Create., designed to further extend the Stevens legacy to create a forward‐looking and far‐reaching institution with global impact.