Matthew Davies, Professor, Department of Mechanical Engineering and Engineering Science, is the 2016 recipient of the Bank of America Award for Teaching Excellence, one of the University’s most prestigious honors for faculty members. He received the award during a special ceremony on Friday, September 9, at Hilton Charlotte Center City.
In discussing the five finalists for the Bank of America Award for Teaching Excellence, Joan Lorden, Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, noted they shared common characteristics – they are intrepid educators who are willing to experiment with innovative pedagogical approaches to learning; they demonstrate passion for their subjects that is contagious and inspiring; and they establish learning partnerships with students that foster collaboration, engagement and relationships of mutual respect.
Davies, who joined UNC Charlotte and The William States Lee College of Engineering in 2001, has an instructional approach aimed at the expansion of knowledge, technical capability and understanding of mechanical and optical engineering principles; it is learner-centered; and it relies on continuous feedback between teacher and student.
He solicits feedback and encourages the open exchange of ideas in his classroom through the establishment of a voluntary Class Improvement Committee (CIC) for each course. Comprised of five to seven student volunteers, the CIC surveys the entire class and suggests ways to structure the course. The committee’s feedback influences everything from the choice of textbook to the appropriate time for office hours.
Using a combination of classroom demonstrations, lecture notes and online videos to introduce complex concepts to students, Davies has a goal that his students leave his classroom trusting their intuition but also developing the analytical skills to support that intuition. For Davies, the key to engineering education is connecting mathematical solutions to real-world phenomena. For this reason, he involves undergraduates in his own research projects. He also holds extensive review sessions for students to solidify their understanding of course material.
Senior mechanical engineering major Paul Anderson, stated that “while taking his class, I was inspired by Dr. Davies’ charisma, wealth of knowledge and positive attitude toward teaching students. As a team mentor, Dr. Davies continues to provide excellent feedback on our design and is always pitching ideas to increase its efficiency.”
Davies completed a Ph.D. in mechanical and aerospace engineering from Cornell University. His bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering is from Carnegie Mellon University. In 2005, he received the Lee College of Engineering Undergraduate Teaching Award, and he is the 2007 recipient of the Bonnie E. Cone Early-Career Professorship in Teaching.