Arce named 2010 Distinguished Faculty Award winner
Chemical engineering professor Pedro Arce dreamed of being a college professor as a boy when working on the fields of his parents' farming community in South America, and now the dream has turned to distinction after receiving the Distinguished Faculty Award from Tennessee Tech University.The award not only honors Arce's notable record while serving as TTU's chemical engineering department chairperson, but also points to the promising trajectory of his career. It is the highest recognition beyond tenure for a TTU faculty member.A key criterion for the Distinguished Faculty Award recognizes faculty who have made significant contributions toward providing external recognition to the university. TTU College of Engineering Dean David Huddleston says Arce's contributions fall into three key areas relevant to the university's mission: active-collaborative learning, scholarly and technological developments, and curriculum and department leadership."He has embraced the broad definition of a university educator," Huddleston said.Richard M. Felder, Hoechst Celanese professor emeritus of chemical engineering at North Carolina State University and author of the introductory chemical engineering textbook used by about 90 percent of U.S. universities, says Arce is one of those rare individuals who manages to excel at every aspect of a faculty career."He has disseminated his innovations extensively in national and international forums and is widely recognized as one of the world's premier authorities in engineering education," said Felder.In educational efforts, Arce has assembled four unique systems, among other tools, for learning: the Colloquial Approach, the Coach Model of Instruction, the High Performance Learning Environment, or Hi-PeLE, and the Personalized Course Binder. These models garner national and international attention because the students, not the instructor, are at the center of their own learning and are mentored to think creatively and independently. The instructor is replaced by a facilitator of learning with highly effective coaching ability."The essence of his strategy is simple," said Joe Biernacki, TTU chemical engineering professor. "Whenever you replace an instructor-led explanation with a student-led activity, you've created a high-performance learning environment."This relatively simple principle fosters a change of paradigm in engineering education, where the student drives the learning by focusing on processes rather than on end results.In scholarly and technological developments, Arce has co-authored with his students more than 120 peer-reviewed articles, proceedings, publications and invited chapters. His efforts also have led to three patents: one in advanced oxidation processes and two pending in gel-technology; others are under consideration.His scholarly work is complemented by his efforts in mentoring 56 students related to doctoral, master's degrees or Distinction in the Major certificates. His research and learning community comprises students from the United States, Nigeria, India, Iran, Colombia, Peru and Chile. As a mentor, Arce focuses on student's development and not on student outcomes. Thesis, papers and presentations must be only measured intimately as part of the student's success, Arce says."To Dr. Arce, developing the individual student as a professional, productive member of the field of chemical engineering is paramount," said Jennifer Pascal, a TTU doctoral student. "First and foremost, he cares about the well being of the student and provides constant encouragement which enhances their productivity."Dr. Arce is not merely a mentor for research, but also guides students in their professional lives," Pascal added. "After having worked with Dr. Arce for over five years as an undergraduate and graduate researcher, I cannot ask for a better mentor."Under Arce's leadership, TTU's chemical engineering enrollment has more than doubled as departmental faculty have embraced and implemented his philosophies. The National Science Foundation invited him to give the keynote address for the annual meeting of Engineering Research Centers in Washington, D.C., and the Chemical Engineering Association of Argentina recently chose him for the opening plenary lecture of its bi-annual meeting. He also was the only invited member of the six four-year Tennessee Board of Regents universities to participate at its Advanced Leadership Academy.As an administrative leader, Arce introduced several innovations including a successful concentration in biomolecular engineering and a new computational platform for learning. He's also elevated research at the undergraduate level by developing the Distinction in the Major program. All this had been accomplished through his cabinet-style leadership, where faculty, students and staff work as a team to promote student excellence and success, which are the primary focus of his leadership efforts.Since Arce's days as a graduate student, Purdue University's Burton and Kathryn Gedge Distinguished Professor G.V. Reklaitis, a member of the National Academy of Engineering, has followed Arce's career and calls him a change agent within the profession."He has abundantly confirmed the promise of those early years," said Reklaitis. "It really is amazing to me that he manages to mentor a group of five doctoral students, four master's students, one postdoctoral fellow, and three undergraduate research students while also innovating in education and leading the department."As a member of Arce's department, Biernacki echoes that sentiment."It is almost inconceivable to me that any faculty member can be so dedicated to teaching and learning and at the same time support a research program as deep," said Biernacki.Huddleston says the Distinguished Faculty Award highlights Arce's passion and vision."He wants to bring Tennessee Tech to a place of recognition and value for the development of the future engineers as innovative agents of transformation."The TTU Distinguished Faculty Award fits Arce very well since he envisions a national reputation with a regional emphasis for the university. He says he strongly believes that TTU must be a prime leader in technology innovation and in developing what he calls the "Creative Class" of the 21st Century.His current goals include seeing the chemical engineering department as a national model of student excellence within a balanced approach to research and education, building consensus for a National Hi-PeLE Institute, and helping to catalyze a master plan leading to a TTU Park for Technology Innovation and Business Entrepreneurship that would attract high-tech business to TTU's area of influence.Arce is a graduate of the Universidad Nacional del Litoral, Santa Fe, Argentina, with a diploma in chemical engineering. He has both a master of sciences degree and a Ph.D. in chemical engineering from Purdue University (West Lafayette, Ind.) and holds one postgraduate certificate in English Studies (British Council, UK) and two in Academic and Advanced Leadership (Chair Academy and Tennessee Board of Regents) in addition to a Postgraduate Research Training (National Research Council of Argentina). He joined TTU in 2003.
Two TTU employees win outstanding clerical awards
One of them was our own department secretary, Becky Asher
Asher is perhaps the best advocate a student majoring in chemical engineering can have. When one student was hospitalized with viral meningitis and unable to return to school, Asher willingly stepped up to assist the student in maintaining contact with professors and keeping abreast of the latest changes at TTU.And when an auto accident prevented this same student from returning to school again, Asher helped again to provide much-needed assistance."Once again, she stepped in to make certain [our son] had everything required for him to graduate this May," the student's father wrote in support of Asher's nomination for the recommendation. "We cannot express in words our gratitude for such an exemplary employee at TTU and are very thankful for all the assistance Mrs. Asher has provided."Asher was nominated for the award by her department's chairperson, Pedro E. Arce, who described Asher's professionalism as among the best.Arce cited Asher's expertise in helping the department upgrade to a mobile laptop computing environment for students. Asher's management of the changeover successfully pushed the project forward so that renovations could be completed cost-effecitvely."She is an amazing staff colleague that matches very few that I have had the chance to observe in my career," Arce said. "Her very positive and smiley personality is always a welcoming greeting for all who need her assistance."Asher began working at TTU in 2006 in the Office of Academic Affairs. She joined the chemical engineering department in January 2007.
Chemical Engineering 2010 "B e s t D a r n M a j o r"
Dr. Pedro E. Arce was the opening plenary lecture speaker of the VI Annual Meeting of the Chemical Engineering Association of Argentina, Mar del Plata, Argentina, October 2010; he also was a plenary speaker for the NSF-ERC Annual Meeting in Washington DC, November 2009. Dr. Arce highlighted his successful Hi-PeLE Learning Environment for enhancing Innovation and Creativity in Engineering Education.
Jennifer A. Pascal, the first student directly admitted to our Engineering PhD program and a Diversity Fellowship Award at TTU, is a winner of a 2010 AIChE Separations Division Graduate Student Award.· This is a highly competitive award with a global request for nominations.· The award is sponsored by the Praxair, Inc. and the AIChE Separations Division.
Ms. Chinyere Mbachu (Chi-Chi) has received several prestigious awards for supporting her graduate studies at Tennessee Tech..
Biernacki win 2009 Caplenor Faculty Research Award
Two Tennessee Tech University researchers adept at integrating research and teaching responsive to the needs of U.S. and worldwide industries have been honored as winners of the university’s most prestigious research award. Mohamed Abdelrahman, electrical and computer engineering professor, and Joe Biernacki, chemical engineering professor, are the 2009 Caplenor Faculty Research Award recipients.