Engineering Faculty Teaching Awards

Date Published: 
December 3, 2014

The William States Lee College of Engineering has presented its 2014 Excellence in Teaching Awards to Dr. Tara Cavalline of Engineering Technology and Construction Management for undergraduate teaching, and Dr. Matt Whelan of Civil and Environmental Engineering for graduate teaching.

Dr. Cavalline was recognized as teacher who genuinely cares for her students and has an approachable demeanor. She makes every effort to know each of her students and their personalities.

In the nomination for Dr. Cavalline, her colleague Dr. John Hildreth noted, “Students want to take her classes, because of the care and creativity she has devoted to teaching, and they seek her out as a senior design mentor, because of the time and effort she dedicates to their success.”

Dr. Cavalline has taught, developed, and made significant enhancements to over 12 courses in the ETCM department. She is committed to supporting and has established the Women in Construction Club, and is directly affiliated with the National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC). She co-mentored a team of undergraduate students who won the American Concrete Institute (ACI)/American Society of Construction Contractors (ASCC) Concrete Construction Competition.

As the winner of the Graduate Teaching Award, Dr. Whelan was recognized as an educator who cares about the learning process of his students and creates an active learning environment. He has developed “workshop” sessions in which course problems are featured as real-world extensions of the course material. Students are encouraged to work together on these challenging problems.

For digital learners, Dr. Whelan piloted an effort to develop a supplemental digital instructional course package to reach the increasingly digital and visual style of learners. The workshops have energized the active learners and nurtured the teaching capabilities of his graduate teaching assistants.

In the nomination for Dr. Whelan, a student commented that his Advanced Structures class “this is one of the harder classes I’ve taken, but it’s a great class.” Another student comments, “Dr. Whelan is a great professor and has a great technique for explaining the material.” They find him well organized, prepared and always available in his office to answer questions.

For the past three years, Dr. Whelan also served as faculty advisor to the UNC Charlotte mixed graduate/undergraduate team competing in the ASCE/AISC Student Steel Bridge Competition, a featured event at the annual ASCE Carolina Conference.