Winner of the SAE International Ralph R. Teetor Educational Award, mechanical engineering professor Pierre Mertiny teaches engineering design courses and makes them both fascinating and fun. Each year in his MecE 260 design course Mertiny presents his students with a challenge that culminates with a spectacular test—student teams design and build remote controlled vehicles made to complete a specific task, and compete against one another. Mertiny is also the recipient of the Faculty of Engineering Teaching Award in Mechanical Engineering for both the 2008-2009 and 2010-2011 academic years. In 2010, he was presented with the Annual Award for Excellence in Teaching by the Mechanical Engineering Club.
Engineering design is challenging to teach because good design involves intangibles like creativity. As a result, Mertiny spends a lot of one-on-one time with students. He employs Active Learning and Experienced-Based Learning strategies to maximize and enhance student learning. Active Learning engages students in the classroom to place the responsibility of learning on them.
“This is done primarily through collaborative and supportive in-class activities such as group work and one-to-one interactions, with the professor remaining the driver of the learning process by structuring and providing the study material,” he says.
“Experienced Based Learning goes a step further by making the students the drivers of their own learning experience,” Mertiny explains, adding that in his design courses student groups are in charge of their decision making, work progress, and ultimately their own success. “I take the role of an advisor who the students consult regularly for guidance. It is quite stunning how much the students become motivated and excited about their work.”
Why I Teach:
A dedicated educator who came to the U of A from Germany and started as a faculty member in January 2006, Mertiny values the opportunity to make a difference in the lives and education of students.
“I teach because in my line of work it probably gives the greatest value to society. Research is certainly an important part of being a professor, but arguably the biggest impact can be made by preparing young people for their future lives and careers. I enjoy seeing and helping students grow academically, intellectually, and professionally.”