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Past Winners of the Teacher of the Week

Akshay Sharma


The Center for Instructional Development and Educational Research (CIDER) recognizes Akshay Sharma, associate professor of Architecture + Design, for incorporating authentic learning experiences that tackle some of the more pressing issues of our time into his courses.

He has taught short one-credit courses as well as six credit design studios that explore solutions to these issues. Over the past few years, Sharma has developed a sustainable infrastructure that includes partnerships with other disciplines on campus, including engineering education, human-computer interaction, and computer science, as well as non-governmental organizations, private foundations, and other entities active in rural development in India. Sharma has collaborated with four organizations in India with missions ranging from developing a fully self-sustainable green community in rural India to increasing literacy to providing prosthetics to disabled adults. He has leveraged these partnerships to positively address issues of literacy, health, and sustainability in the targeted communities. For instance, Sharma has used Design as a catalyst for empowerment of women, especially in the developing world ( His students have created a financial literacy system for illiterate women in rural India who are engaged in a micro finance self help group (see and He has worked in the areas of immunization, financial literacy, and education in developing countries. He leads an interdisciplinary team of students and faculty at Virginia Tech to address some of the most pressing issues of our times with design. As part of his teaching, he also takes students to India for a 3-week study abroad program. The India trip is linked to the studio projects and has helped students develop deeper understanding of the issues they are dealing with.

“I have observed Professor Sharma in the field,” said Aditya Johri, assistant professor of engineering education. “He has a down-to-earth approach that makes it easy for him to work with these communities and impact them.”

Sharma’s work has been recognized in a number of prestigious international venues, including Innovation, the journal of the Industrial Designers Society of America. He has authored five publications and was awarded a Certificate for Teaching Excellence, the College of Architecture and Urban Studies’ Excellence in Diversity Award, and the School of Architecture + Design Award for Excellence in Outreach.


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