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McCormick Teaching Innovation and Course Improvement Grant

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Certain courses in almost every engineering department are particularly difficult to teach well but are also of vital importance because of their place in the curriculum and typical enrollment. The reasons for the difficulty could include difficulty of required content, timing in curriculum, disparity in student background and interest, faculty background and experience, and course size. 

The goal of the McCormick Teaching Innovation & Course Improvement Grant is to encourage faculty to develop innovative teaching strategies and course improvements to overcome these difficulties. A proposal for the grant will include the plan for improvement, how it will be implemented, and an assessment plan. The proposal is expected to reflect considerable thought and effort in redesigning a course, but the written submission should be no longer than about 3 pages. 

Preference will be given to a well-thought-out plan for tackling a problematic course that has significant enrollment and a significant position in an engineering major. Preference will be given to innovative solutions or an implementation of solutions that have been proven successful in other courses at Cornell or elsewhere.  Some preference will be given to courses from departments that have not recently won an award. 

The grant will provide up to $5,000, as justified by the proposal budget.  The grant winner(s) will be announced in late September 2012. The expectation is that the winner will implement the improvement plan and teach the course in fall 2012 or spring 2013.   


Applications should be submitted by Monday, September 17th, 2012 to Kathryn Dimiduk, Director of Teaching Excellence Institute,  It is recommended that you discuss your idea with Kathryn Dimiduk before submission.   

Application packet 

The application should include the following:  

Faculty member information:

  • Name, department, rank, years teaching 

A brief description of the course, including:                       

  • Name, number, department, typical number of students;
  • Why this course is important in the curriculum;
  • How the course has been taught previously;                        
  • Prior difficulties with the course; 
  • Plan for innovations and improvements in the course:                        

Plan for improving the course;                        

  • Expected implemented time frame;
  • How the revised course will be taught;                        
  • Whether the ideas have been tested;                       
  • The innovations in the new plan;
  • How the planned improvements address issues in previous versions of the course;
  • How the funding will be used (budget section); 

A note from your department supporting the proposal and its continued implementation if successful.    


Kathryn Dimiduk, Director, Engineering Teaching Excellence Institute,, 254-6514, 167D Olin Hall 

Past Winners:

Fall 2010 Winners:

Manohar, Rajit, ECE. Revitalizing Undergraduate Computer Engineering Education.   

Saxena, Ashutosh, CS. Robot Learning. 

Fall 2009 Winners: 

Henderson, ORIE ENGRD 2700. Creation of new examples, activities, HW, database to make available to future instructors, undergraduate summer assistants.   

Hanrath, CBE ChemE 3130 Thermodynamics. Wacam tablet, incorporation of simulations.