PhD student Shamsheer Singh Chauhan received honorable mention for the 2020 Richard and Eleanor Towner Prize for Outstanding Graduate Student Instructors
Awarded by the U-M College of Engineering, the Towner Prize seeks to award GSIs who have demonstrated creativity or innovation, excellence in teaching, and remarkable dedication to student success.
Shamsheer has been recognized as an honorable mention for his dedication to his students and for his application of creative teaching strategies in AERO 481, which he has assisted Professor Joaquim Martins in teaching for the 2016, 2017, and 2018 fall terms.
His primary goal is to help his students learn with a long-term mindset and become more rigorous engineers. By reducing superficial learning and implementing techniques to improve students’ retention of the material, he strives to help students strengthen their ability to apply class material to situations beyond the problems presented in class.
“If the material is too complex, then it’s very difficult to retain that information, so I always try to connect the material back to more basic fundamental concepts. I also try to leverage visual tools and visual thinking, which are generally a lot more effective than verbal information,” Shamsheer explained. “With memory and curiosity in mind, I try to ask questions with interesting or surprising answers to create more of an impact in terms of mental connections and retention.”
Now having completed the PhD program, Shamsheer is grateful for the opportunity to learn aircraft design principles in more depth, and also accredits his students for teaching him how to be a better teacher.
Through these experiences, I learned that I must constantly remind myself that teaching is about the students. I shouldn’t worry too much about my image or covering as much material as possible. Instead, for example, it’s much more important to ensure that the students can follow along at a comfortable pace to retain the concepts.”
Shamsheer has also received an honorable mention for the Towner Prize in 2019 and has received the 2020 Rackham Outstanding GSI Award. Due to COVID, the Towner Award will not be held for the 2020-2021 academic year.
Shamsheer received his Bachelor’s of Applied Science in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Waterloo in 2014. He began his PhD in Aerospace Engineering at U-M in 2015 and has completed his PhD this fall term. He has recently accepted an offer to work for Overair on the development of electric aircraft.