First-year engineering professor earns student-administered teaching award

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Satadru Dey, assistant professor of mechanical engineering at Penn State, was awarded the designation of “Top Professor” by the University’s student chapter of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) for the fall of 2020. 

Satadru Dey, assistant professor of mechanical engineering at Penn State. Credit: Provided by Satadru DeyAll Rights Reserved.

Students voted to recognize an outstanding professor that exemplified teaching excellence and cultivated a supportive learning environment. This is the first time the award was bestowed to a faculty member in the Department of Mechanical Engineering (ME). 

“In many of Dr. Dey’s nominations, his students said his lectures were some of the best at Penn State,” said Micaela Stover, an undergraduate ME student and member of the ASME chapter. “He is also always trying to ensure that his students learn how to solve the problems and is willing to provide additional help as necessary.”

Dey, who joined ME in August, said the award was a surprise.

“I was not expecting this at all, as I have been teaching at Penn State only for three months,” he said. “This is very special and undoubtedly one of the best things that happened to me since I moved here.”

While he is still in the early stages of his teaching career, Dey said he has committed to keeping a focus on real-world problem solving and pursuing innovative methods to keep his students engaged.

“I frequently ask for student feedback on the teaching style, pace and course organization,” he said. “I am well aware of the difficulties students are facing, especially now.”

To create a supportive learning environment, he was quick to adjust based on students’ responses. For instance, while teaching ME 450: Modeling of Dynamic Systems this semester, the course was originally constructed with one exam at the end of the semester that determined 30% of the students’ final grade. However, he found his students anticipated additional stress through this method, with so much of their grade resting on a single assignment. Acknowledging their feedback, Dey modified the structure to split the content into two exams, each with 15% weight. 

“I think the majority of students benefited from this change,” he said. 

As evidenced by this award, Dey believes fostering honest and constructive communication with his students has a positive impact. He also added the acknowledgment was particularly rewarding so early in his career. 

“The fact that this award was student-led makes it even more special,” he said. “I think it validates my teaching efforts, and, at the same time, inspires me to make continuous improvements.”

Last Updated December 04, 2020