McCormick Prof. Michael Peshkin receives national education award

Jake Holland, Copy Chief

A McCormick professor has been selected as the recipient of the 2017 Ralph Coats Roe Award from the American Society for Engineering Education’s mechanical engineering division, according to a news release sent out Tuesday.

McCormick Prof. Michael Peshkin, the Bette and Neison Harris Professor in Teaching Excellence, received the award for his contributions to the field and for his “sustained efforts” to give students design, building and debugging experiences, the release said. Peshkin’s research interests include robotics, human-machine interface and surface haptics. According to the release, he was selected by the ASEE for his work with Northwestern students in the field of practical electronics for mechanical engineers.

Since joining NU in 1987, Peshkin has used innovative teaching methods like introducing the “lab in a backpack,” a kit for students that, with a laptop, forms an electronics workbench, complete with tools like an oscilloscope, power supply and function generator, the release said. By using the “Peshkin Box,” students are able to work outside the classroom, completing projects at coffee shops or in their own homes.

Peshkin, who also holds the Charles Deering McCormick Professorship of Teaching Excellence, has helped “revitalize engineering courses” by removing instructions that read like cookbook recipes, instead pushing students to think and work creatively like engineers, the release said.

Lightboard, a glass chalkboard embedded with LED lights that was developed by Peshkin, enables professors and other faculty to write equations and create video lectures while still facing the camera. According to the news release, more than 50 institutions have built their own version of Peshkin’s Lightboard with its open-source instructions.

“I deeply appreciate the encouragement, resources, and free rein that my department chair and colleagues have given me, over many years, to develop atypical courses,” Peshkin said in the release. “I hope this award will provide my courses and curricula with additional visibility at other engineering schools, as I would love to see more hands-on teaching and learning in college classrooms.”

Peshkin will accept the award at ASEE’s annual conference in June in Columbus, Ohio.

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