Virginia Tech Teacher of the Week
The Center for Instructional Development and Educational Research (CIDER) recognizes Pablo Tarazaga, assistant professor of Mechanical Engineering, for his passion for teaching students and for aiding in the development of practical skill sets for engineers to use in both research and industry.
Dr. Tarazaga combines PowerPoint and whiteboard lectures with hands-on classroom demonstrations. His lectures are packed with examples of how different concepts (such as resonance, damping, and parameter estimation) apply to real-world applications (such as helicopter dynamics, bridge collapses, and understanding biology). He combines this dynamic lecture style with project-based final exams. These projects involve small groups of students developing projects inspired by their own ideas or current research. Examples include modeling and testing a footbridge, understanding the vitro-acoustic behavior of a violin, and improving performance of a road surface sensor through characterizing the mounting assembly. Students also read academic journals and other contemporary reference sources, develop analytical and numerical models, and (most importantly) conduct an experiment to validate their models. They are constantly encouraged to solve problems by themselves, but when difficulties are reached, Dr. Tarazaga is extremely approachable with questions and discussions.
Another student of Dr. Tarazaga states, “The testing and analysis skills that I developed taking Pablo Tarazaga's class, and further as part of his lab, have led me to impress potential employers.”
Despite being a new faculty member, Dr. Tarazaga has already earned respect from his students and his colleagues for his classroom approach. Several other professors in mechanical and in aerospace engineering have expressed interest in developing courses with him or teaching alongside him. Under his guidance, his senior design team won "Best in Creativity and Innovation" for Mechanical Engineering in 2013.
Resource: Past Class Projects