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Nicholas Zabaras, MAE, Michael Tien '72 Award

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Michael Tien '72 Excellence in Teaching Award

In the Fall 2008 semester, Nicholas Zabaras taught MAE 4700/5700, Finite Element Analysis for Mechanical and Aerospace Design. The course discusses the numerical methods that are used to solve for loads, stresses, and strains in mechanical systems.

"This course was taught for the first time by professor Zabaras this year. I think his fresh view on FEA made this course very useful for the students who took it," reads one student evaluation.

"Homework MATLAB libraries were incredibly easy to use and well-commented. Everything was thought through well. Lecture notes were well organized as well. Office hours were very helpful and always worth my time," reads another.

In Spring 2009, Zabaras taught MAE 7150, Atomistic Modeling of Materials. This was the fourth offering of this course since he introduced it in Spring 2006. The course covers atomistic simulation of material properties using both academic and commercial software. Students are exposed to models for interatomic forces based on quantum mechanics. The course is aimed at graduate students from engineering, physics, and chemistry.

"This course is fantastic," reads a student evaluation from the course. "I would recommend that anybody interested in research where computational physics would give them an edge to take it… The skills of this class are highly transferable to other disciplines, as this class under the guidance of Dr. Zabaras helps the student learn new material quickly, efficiently and correctly."

Even students' critical comments, which mainly focused on there being too much homework, had one remarkably positive statement: "No weaknesses in the course. Dr. Zabaras deserves awards upon awards for his construction of the course. A++++ all around."

"Nicholas is well known for being a rigorous instructor, but he is extremely knowledgeable, helpful to students and fair," writes Lance Collins, director of the Sibley School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, in his nomination letter. "So while some students may complain about how hard they are working, they also appreciate how much they are learning."