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David Putnam

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David PutnamWhen teaching classes like Introduction to Biomedical Engineering or Engineering Principles in Drug Delivery, David Putnam wants to make sure his students pay attention.  

"I have a significant fear of students falling asleep during class. It makes me think I'm not being an effective educator," he says. "So I guess I would describe my teaching style as loud and punctuated!" 

That might put some students off at first, but they soon warm to him.

"Once students realize I'm just a normal guy, they open up about everything," says Putnam. "It makes teaching so much more enjoyable and effective when you know what your students are thinking." 

In fact, Putnam says his biggest challenge is not getting to know each student in-depth.  

One of Putnam's most memorable teaching moments came when Professor Ken Hover waited with students to talk to him after class. "I thought I was in trouble for lecturing too loudly, " he says. "He shook my hand and told me Cornell needed more teachers like me. It takes a lot to make me blush, but he managed to do it with his very kind words." 

Putnam says his teaching success owes a lot to that of a colleague who has won numerous teaching awards. He tells new faculty they can learn a lot from him. "Go watch Mike Duncan in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering before you teach," he says. "He is a master."