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Past Winners of the Teacher of the Week

Corina Sandu

   

The Center for Instructional Development and Educational Research (CIDER) recognizes Corina Sandu, professor of Mechanical Engineering, for her dedication to providing an effective education, for developing new courses, for her attitude of respect, and for her concern with the overall wellbeing and formation of engineering students.

Although technicalities may be forgotten in time, the main concepts should be well understood and remembered; this is the backbone of Dr. Sandu’s teaching philosophy. She is interested in helping students develop their individual reasoning capacity in a logical, structured way. She considers a careful preparation of each lecture of the utmost importance, including balancing theoretical concepts with eloquent and illustrative examples, delivering classroom materials clearly and effectively, forming correlations with other courses, ensuring active participation, and reinforcing critical aspects using real-world applications. Additionally, Dr. Sandu’s respect for her students and her concern for their wellbeing form integral components of her teaching principles. She recognizes that each student’s learning process is different; she is always happy to provide further support or to otherwise accommodate the needs of her students.
Since starting her academic career, Dr. Sandu has taught a wide range of courses at all levels, in addition to developing technical electives and graduate courses in her areas of research.
Every year starting Fall 2003 until she became Associate Department Head for Graduate Studies in Fall 2015, Dr. Sandu taught the sophomore class ME 2024 Engineering Design and Economics (a total of 17 sections of 30-36 students each). The non-traditional format of this class relied on teamwork and in-class activities, with the instructor reviewing fundamental concepts, explaining the new activities, and guiding the students during the class exercises. Dr. Sandu also taught the junior level ME 3504 Mechanical Vibrations course (a total of 4 sections of 55-75 students each). She, to the appreciation of her students, combined framework PowerPoint presentations (which left students to fill in critical elements during the lecture) with chalk-and-blackboard problems.
Dr. Sandu introduced a new graduate course, ME 5654 Modeling and Simulation of Multibody Dynamic Systems, in Fall 2006, which she has since then successfully delivered synchronously for on-campus as well as for up to three remote locations, ensuring that all the students were involved in the class discussions and had the opportunity to ask questions in or outside the classroom (a total of 8 sections of 10-33 students each). The course attracted students from the mechanical, aerospace, engineering science and mechanics, and industrial engineering departments. Dr. Sandu also developed and taught ME 4984/ME 5984Terramechanics and Off-Road Vehicle Performance, a new senior/graduate course, for the first time in Spring 2015; enrollment exceeded the expectations (17 undergraduate and 13 graduate students). The course, unique in the country, provides students with knowledge of modeling and performance evaluation of wheeled and tracked vehicles in off-road conditions. Dr. Sandu provided materials appropriate for each level and differentiated assignments, including more research-oriented ones for the graduate students. The feedback on the SPOT forms indicates that the students thoroughly enjoyed both the class and Dr. Sandu’s supportive attitude towards their learning.

Dr. Sandu has been cited twice on the Dean’s List for teaching the Engineering Design and Economics class. Her peers found that she teaches this class “professionally and effectively”. One of her students mentioned on the SPOT form, “She was very passionate about what she was teaching,” while another wrote: “The instructor was very helpful during class time and was open to questions.”
After sitting in her Multibody Dynamics class, one of Dr. Sandu’s colleagues characterized her as “an excellent instructor, with a clear lesson plan, a methodic approach, and skillful interactive material delivery that kept the students interested and involved.” One student mentioned on the SPOT form: “The course is very good and is a must for any student interested in robotics as well as vehicle dynamics. The instructor was a subject-matter expert and was extremely resourceful in helping the students gain a good understanding.” Yet another student said: “Great professor, cares very much that the students are learning.” One “Thank a Teacher” note thanked her “very much for your [Dr. Sandu’s] effort this semester through your wonderful course. I really learned how to work with multi-body systems. I like your assignments.”
For her excellence in teaching and education, the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) awarded Dr. Sandu its most prestigious educational award in 2007: the SAE Ralph R. Teetor Educational Award.

Homepage: http://www.me.vt.edu/people/faculty/corina-sandu/





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