KALAMAZOO, Mich.—Ask any engineering student why they chose Western, and no doubt you will hear about the hands-on learning that fills the halls on the Parkview Campus. That approach extends to the Ph.D. researchers who are the future faculty at universities worldwide. Ph.D. candidates such as Hassan Shirzadi Jahromi whose recent All-University Teaching Effectiveness Award is the result of dedication to WMU engineering students and the college’s commitment to an experiential approach in education, as well as support from the faculty of the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering.
“The focus of my class is active learning which is an approach that recognizes the importance of student engagement,” says Shirzadi. “It is an approach that I try to embed in almost everything I do in the classroom. I create an environment where the students are continuously engaged in the learning process.”
Shirzadi leads the lab sections for ME3350—Instrumentation and was hired by Dr. Muralidhar Ghantasala, professor of mechanical engineering, for the role. “ME3350 is an important course for all of our mechanical and aerospace engineering students,” says Ghantasala. “We are very selective when choosing the Ph.D. student to lead the lab portion for this course,” noting that Shirzadi is gaining teaching experience as well as interacting with students and gaining an intercultural perspective of the classroom.
Shirzadi began teaching in fall 2019. He barely became accustomed to teaching when the pandemic hit. Accordingly, the lab was taught remotely with Shirzadi in the lab showing students tasks and helping them manage the projects at home—no simple feat. “Hassan was really good at this,” adds Ghantasala.
“My lifetime ambition is to become an academic with an excellent teaching and research profile. As I am very passionate about teaching, I want to utilize my stay at WMU to enhance my teaching skills further.”
And his research profile is growing. In July 2023, he plans to defend his dissertation—Synthesis, Characterization and Testing of Graphene Based Materials for PEM-FC Catalysts. He already has multiple citations for three of his eight listings in Google Scholar. And he continues exploring his research area and supporting WMU projects.
“What I find most exciting about our research is that we are contributing to solving a major world issue (clean and sustainable energy) and involving WMU in research that is being conducted all over the globe,” explains Shirzadi.
Shirzadi will still be in the WMU lab for now, but you can follow him on LinkedIn to see where his teaching and research lands him in the future.
Congratulations on your award, Hassan!
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