Each week, the University of Georgia Center for Teaching and Learning highlights the work of an outstanding faculty member. This week’s CTL Teacher of the Week is Xianqiao Wang, an assistant professor in the College of Engineering.
As an assistant professor in the College of Engineering, Xianqiao Wang incorporates elements of his research into computational mechanics in his teaching. In his research, Dr. Wang uses interactive simulation tools to model mechanical properties of everything from the cortical folding of the human brain to the 2D nanomaterials used in many modern electronic devices. Using these same tools, he asks his students to run simulations to test their own hypotheses on the engineering concepts and equations covered in class. His students, many of whom will go on to conduct their own research, benefit greatly from the experience.
For Wang, bringing students into the fold of his own research is just one form of mentoring. He holds a deep sense of gratitude for those who influenced his own teaching and research career and repays it by investing himself closely in the success and progress of his students. One way to foster success, according to Wang, is through anticipating the students’ needs and treating them as peers.
“He has helped me not only in my scholastic pursuits, but has been irreplaceable when it comes to both directing and propelling my research efforts, teaching me how to become a self-sufficient member of the scientific community,” said Matthew Becton, one of Wang’s a former students.
For Wang, the ultimate goal of teaching transcends simply helping students comprehend new material. He seeks to guide them towards a life of excellence.
“I believe the key elements of any education should include encouragement, understanding, respect and commitment,” said Wang.
The opportunity to provide these concepts, he says, is one of the most rewarding things about teaching.