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Missouri University of Science and Technology professor receives President’s Award for Innovative Teaching


Christian Basi

Annual awards recognize faculty systemwide for their contributions in the classroom and community

ROLLA, Mo. – University of Missouri System President Mun Choi today awarded the first of 10 UM System President’s Awards to be presented to faculty in 2018 to Nicolas Libre, assistant teaching professor of civil, architectural and environmental engineering at Missouri University of Science and Technology.

Choi—accompanied by Missouri S&T Interim Chancellor Christopher Maples—surprised Libre with the President’s Award for Innovative Teaching, which includes a $5,000 prize. The award recognizes faculty who use innovative teaching methods, including electronic resources or experiential activities, while having a major impact on students or faculty.

For the last five years, Libre has incorporated and refined teaching techniques that have impacted students. Using interactive eBooks published by Apple for mobile devices, students in Libre’s classes were able to enhance their learning environments through 3-D models, videos and animations, and homework problems. Libre also has shared grading applications with other faculty members that can help determine if students are struggling with concepts presented in the classroom. Many of these resources are open source, meaning they are free and reduce the costs of student education.

“Dr. Libre’s impact on engineering education at Missouri S&T is wide ranging,” said F. Scott Miller, teaching professor and associate chair for undergraduates in materials science and engineering at Missouri S&T. “He has developed a Mechanics of Materials application that assists students in modelling and understanding, as well as a series of YouTube videos to explain the concepts in his classes that have been viewed by students all over the world. He is very gracious in sharing his ideas and methods to improve engineering education, and I have deep respect for his methods.”

Libre uses recordings to initially expose his students to the materials that will be covered in future classes. In his videos, he not only explains the concepts, but also works examples to further imprint the ideas presented in the course.

Ana Messmer and Jonathan Kuchem, students in Libre’s class, wrote in a joint letter that “Dr. Libre constantly strives to improve himself and the mechanics of materials course, as well as student performance. This has a great impact on students to help them better learn the material for a challenging, yet important course. With extremely late nights and early mornings, it is clear he commits an immense amount of time to teaching and improving his course.”

The UM System President’s Awards are presented annually to faculty members across the four campuses of the UM System who have made exceptional contributions in advancing the mission of the university. Libre will be formally recognized by Choi during an awards celebration to be held in June.

Reviewed 2018-03-22