Regan receives Harry West Teaching Award to advance teaching efforts

February 22, 2017

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — John Regan, professor of environmental engineering at Penn State, was recently awarded the Harry West Teaching Award from the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering.

The award is intended to advance the department’s continuing efforts in support of the scholarship of teaching and learning and is designed to inspire a broad range of faculty at all ranks to pursue excellence in teaching.

Recipients are expected to work on a teaching issue during the award year, present the work at a faculty meeting following the academic year in which the award was received, and write a brief summary of the work that will be published on the department website and in a newsletter. Each award recipient will also receive a small monetary award, which can be applied to professional needs.

Regan teaches Environmental Microbiology and Biological Treatment Processes. In both courses he covers the mathematical description of microbial reaction rates, and in Biological Treatment Processes, the class models a variety of biological reactors. He plans to use his award to purchase software and training to advance the students’ understanding of computational modeling.

“My interest is in giving the students hands-on experience with computational models of biological systems to allow them to evaluate complexities that we can’t do with manual calculations,” Regan said.

Regan said he hopes this will allow for enhanced engagement in his Environmental Microbiology course by incorporating more computational opportunities where students sometimes struggle with the heavy dose of scientific principles over engineering calculations. In his Biological Treatment Processes course, the software will allow students to analyze complex systems under realistic nonsteady-state conditions, whereas currently Regan can only cover these topics abstractly because the computational complexity exceeds what can be done through spreadsheets or other analyses.

“I was excited to learn that I’d have the opportunity to incorporate computational tools to analyze biological systems in my courses,” Regan said. “I’d been wanting to do this for a couple years but did not have the resources to make this addition.”

A committee, whose membership includes one undergraduate student, one graduate student, one faculty member and Harry West, selects award recipients.

The award is open to all full time civil and environmental engineering faculty members regardless of rank and at any career stage.

Harry West, emeritus professor of civil engineering at Penn State, had a long and distinguished career as a civil engineering educator. He personified teaching excellence, earning numerous awards for his teaching over his career. The award was created by the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering to honor his contributions through the advancement of civil engineering education.

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    John Regan

    IMAGE: Penn State

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Last Updated February 23, 2017