Loui receives award from Campus Honors Program

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By Susan Kantor, ECE ILLINOIS
June 5, 2009

  • Loui received the King Broadrick-Allen Award for Excellence in Honors Teaching for teaching and service to the Campus Honors Program.
  • Loui has been involved in the Campus Honors Program since the early 1990s.
  • Loui uses unique and ambitious teaching methods in his honors courses.

Michael C. Loui
Michael C. Loui

ECE Professor Michael C. Loui has received the King Broadrick-Allen Award for Excellence in Honors Teaching for distinguished teaching and service to the Campus Honors Program. The program gives this annual award to a faculty member who has made great contributions to the program.

Loui has been involved in the Campus Honors Program since the early 1990s, serving on the Honors Advisory Committee, evaluating course proposals, and offering advanced seminars that have appealed to disciplines even outside Engineering.

“Michael Loui has done it all,” said Bruce Michelson, director of the Campus Honors Program. “His students have sung his praises for many years as a scholar and teacher with a very special blend of expertise, eloquence and humanity.”

In his honors courses, Loui uses a variety of ambitious teaching methods. “I do things I couldn’t normally do in a regular course.”

In an honors section of ECE 316: Engineering Ethics, Loui designed a field work assignment where small groups of students interviewed local professionals about real ethical problems they encountered. “It’s a very valuable learning experience” he said. “The feedback I get is that students would like to have more, even though it’s a lot of effort to set up these field work assignments.”

In CHP 396: Technology Communication and Contemporary Society, a Campus Honors interdisciplinary seminar, Loui created a two-week role play simulation. Each student plays a character in a fictional community in the near future that is dealing with technological controversies, such as stem cell research, using nanotechnology in a new manufacturing plant, and implanting radio frequency IDs (RFIDs) in Alzheimer’s patients.

“Students can see the academic readings on the relationship between technology and society are then made more real through this simulation,” Loui said. Students say they learn about negotiation skills, understanding different perspectives, and realizing how many people can be affected by one decision.

Through the fieldwork assignment and role-play simulation, Loui tries to promote courage in his classroom. “We often think about educating the head, teaching students knowledge,” he said. “But we should also think about nurturing the heart, that is, developing courage to try new things and encourage students through challenging assignments and when they fail.”

And in Loui’s classroom, it’s OK to make a mistake. When he taught ECE 390: Computer Engineering II, Loui began awarding prizes for the best mistakes of the semester. “We learn best from our mistakes, and school is the time to be making those mistakes,” he said. “We really should be encouraging students to be making mistakes and having the courage to do that.”

Loui has been at the University since January 1981. He is a Distinguished Lecturer of IEEE Society on Social Implications of Technology, a Fellow of IEEE, a Carnegie Scholar, and a University Distinguished Teacher-Scholar. Loui received the campus’s Luckman Distinguished Undergraduate Teaching Award in 1995 and the College of Engineering’s Everitt Award for Teaching Excellence in 1984.

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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