Latest Moruzzi Award winners show that educational innovation is alive and well among early career faculty

Professor Raghvendra Cowlagi of the Aerospace Engineering Program and Professor Sarah Wodin-Schwartz from the Mechanical Engineering Department were honored at the Faculty Awards Convocation in April as the 2019 recipients of the Romeo L. Moruzzi Young Faculty Award for Innovation in Undergraduate Education.

Professor Cowlagi (photo at left) was cited for his efforts to overcome the steep learning barriers usually associated with theoretical subject matter by providing strong real-world connections to help students succeed. His most noteworthy innovation is the introduction of personalized experiments that students can conduct at home, collecting and analyzing data that are personally relevant.

Professor Wodin-Schwartz (photo to right) was recognized for her innovative use of high-impact practices to increase student engagement in the introductory mechanics series. Through hands-on activities she helps students develop physical intuition about forces and moments. Using authentic projects she contextualizes engineering practice in real-world settings and connects engineering to its social outcomes.

This award has been conferred to a pre-tenure, tenure-track faculty member annually since 1999, in honor and remembrance of Romeo L. Moruzzi, a WPI faculty member for close to 40 years who was a key player in bringing tenure to WPI and revolutionizing undergraduate education with the creation of the WPI Plan. In 2019, in recognition of the important role of non-tenure track faculty in delivering distinctive undergraduate education and with the support of the Moruzzi family, the eligibility was expanded to include both non-tenure track and tenure-track faculty members in their early career.

The Moruzzi Award process is coordinated by the Morgan Teaching and Learning Center, and the winner is chosen by the Educational Development Council, a committee of four faculty members and one undergraduate student.