As someone who teaches mostly first year engineering students, Hillary Tanner tries to ease her students’ transition from the structure of high school life to the freedom of college life. She has high expectations for her students but she is also sympathetic to this transitional period in their lives.
“Mrs. Tanner was my most influential teacher that I had while attending The University of Georgia,” said Shelby Holsomback, a former student. “She challenged me not only in academics, but in all other areas of life to strive to be the best in everything that I do. She leads by example and is the perfect image of what a hard working woman in engineering should be. She has become a lifelong friend and mentor and has forever impacted my life for the better.”
Teaching all first year students makes it absolutely necessary to keep students engaged as much as possible. For Tanner that means hands-on activities and lots of one-on-one attention in the classroom. The students in her Engineering Graphics and Design course learn visualization skills by constructing models, observing and interpreting the models they have created, and by drawing them with design software. They try out cutting edge equipment such as 3D scanners, which can be used to get a digital scan of objects they are investigating. They also use good old fashioned hand tools tools to break things so they can investigate how those things were designed in the first place. Most of this is done in a computer lab setting where Tanner is available for assistance.
Tanner says her accomplishments in the classroom could not have been realized without guidance from wonderful mentors who have helped shape the way she works with students and delivers course content. Some of these mentors were her professors when she was working on an Agricultural Engineering degree at UGA and are now colleagues. She admired elements of their teaching styles as a student but did not fully realize how much until she was standing in front of a classroom full of students herself.