Carney receives Everitt Teaching Award from the College of Engineering

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By Nathaniel Lash, ECE ILLINOIS
June 13, 2012

  • ECE Associate Professor Paul Scott Carney is the 2012 recipient of the Everitt Teaching Award.
  • Carney is the course director of ECE 445: Senior Design Projects Laboratory, a projects-based course.
  • He has adapted the project-based approach to other courses he teaches to emphasize individual achievement in a longer-term project.

Paul Scott Carney
Paul Scott Carney

ECE Associate Professor Paul Scott Carney was recognized by the College of Engineering and by ECE students for excellence in teaching with the Everitt Teaching Award. Created in 1968 to honor Engineering Dean William L. Everitt, this award is given annually to a member of the College of Engineering faculty based on a student nomination to recognize outstanding teaching.

“I teach for the students. I find them compelling, individually,” said Carney, a researcher in the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology and the Coordinated Science Lab. “It's a privilege to participate in their education. I am genuinely gratified that some of them feel that I have helped them."

Carney teaches undergraduates in ECE 340: Semiconductor Devices and in ECE 445: Senior Design Projects Laboratory, for which he is the course director. ECE 445 is a projects-based course in which electrical engineering seniors create novel work for real-world applications. Carney sees this course as having an impact on his teaching philosophy.

“I’ve found that the drive to learn something so you can actually make progress in a project that’s important to you is a much more effective means of learning something than being worried that you’ll lose points if you don’t know all the right magical things,” he said.

In this Senior Design course, Carney said he serves as the students’ “cheerleader,” helping direct the student projects early on, and finding ways to help them along the way.

“That’s the nice part about teaching seniors: they know a lot,” Carney said. “A lot of times, I’m learning things from them.”

This same projects-based approach has found its way into Carney’s graduate courses, which include ECE 569: Inverse Problems in Optics; ECE 570: Nonlinear Optics; and ECE 598PSC: Advanced Coherence Theory. Carney does not use exams in those classes; he instead emphasizes individual achievement through a semester-long project.

Carney said much of his success in teaching stems from the time and effort he puts into connecting with students: “If I show up every day, and actually really care whether my students are learning something and whether they’re actually getting something out of the class, all the other things that go into good teaching just take care of themselves.”

Editor's note: media inquiries should be directed to Brad Petersen, Director of Communications, at bradp@illinois.edu or (217) 244-6376.

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