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Timothy Healey, MAE, Dorothy and Fred Chau MS '74 Award

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Dorothy and Fred Chau, MS '74, Excellence in Teaching Award

Tim Healey believes that it is "an honor and a privilege" to teach, or as he puts it "to pass on some of the knowledge of our civilization to future generations."

He weaves a little history into his lectures, whenever possible, to help enliven courses. "The names, ideas, stories and evolution of a subject often spark the interest of students," he says.

And the students agree.

"Tim Healey is the most inspirational teacher I’ve had at Cornell so far, hands down," wrote one undergrad who took ENGRD 2020, Mechanics of Solids. "He makes an effort to relate what we’re doing to real-world problems: REAL engineering–something I’d been missing from teachers."

In his 25 years as a professor, all but one of them at Cornell, Healey has amassed a collection of memories. "It's hard to say what the most memorable moment is," he says. "However, I was flattered recently by a student's written comment on one of my evaluations. I am paraphrasing here, but it went something like this: 'What I like about Healey is that he has opinions—some of which I do not necessarily agree with—and he is not afraid to express them.'"

Healey was nominated for a teaching award by Lance Collins, director of the Sibley School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering. "In summary, Tim Healey has achieved teaching excellence in a core undergraduate class and in an advance mathematics class for graduate students," he wrote. "His ability to teach well at all levels is admirable and worthy of recognition."

Healey says he got some of his best advice from the late Don Conway, his teaching mentor when he started as an assistant professor, and later a dear friend. "He said: 'As a faculty member at Cornell, one's research program is certainly quite important and deserves a great deal of attention and dedication. Of course it's the main reason why we all enter into academia—to test out our ideas and flex our intellectual muscles. However, in the long run, the vast majority of us (not being Nobel Laureates) actually have the chance to make our biggest impact in the classroom. Just think of the immense number of students one impacts—for better or for worse—over a 30-year academic career!'”