On May 8, William A. Tisdale, the Charles and Hilda Roddey Career Development Assistant Professor in Chemical Engineering, received the Everett Moore Baker Memorial Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching. This Institute-wide award is given annually to an MIT faculty member in recognition of his or her “exceptional interest and ability in the instruction of undergraduates.” It is the only teaching award in which the nomination and selection of recipients is done entirely by students.
“This is a truly unexpected and deeply meaningful honor — especially knowing that it came from the students,” Tisdale says. “It is quite humbling to have my name included among the past award recipients. I’m convinced that the recognition is due in no small part to the inspiring example and mentorship that Alan [Hatton] has provided me as my senior faculty co-instructor in 10.302. I am also amazed at the dedication and respect the MIT undergraduate students show toward their own learning; it is a privilege to teach such capable and willing minds.”
T. Alan Hatton, the Ralph Landau Professor of Chemical Engineering Practice, won the Baker Award in 1983. He and Tisdale co-taught 10.302 (Transport Processes), a chemical engineering course that focuses on “the ability to solve real heat- and mass-transfer problems of engineering significance.”
According to one of the student nominators, “It was a privilege to be a student in 10.302.”
Tisdale’s lectures were noted for being well-organized; students said they also “creatively spark discussion and interest in the class. … His priority is that students learn. Questions that take the lecture off-track are always welcomed and, in the end, never hinder the flow of the class. His responses enhance the growth of understanding of the material.”
Other student nominators agreed, saying:
- “[Tisdale] is interesting. Fun.”
- “Professor Tisdale has a terrific humor that builds the teacher-class relationship. His connection with students is evident and strong.”
- “As a relatively new faculty member, Professor Tisdale continues to learn and improve his course material and problems.”
- “Great teachers have an innate sense of when students need help and provide support to those individuals. Professor Tisdale brings out the best in individuals and inspires them to want to learn and gain understanding.”
A member of MIT's chemical engineering faculty since 2012, Tisdale also received the 2014 Nontenured Faculty Award and the Department of Energy’s 2013 Early Career Award. He received his PhD in chemical engineering at the University of Minnesota in 2010, and his bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering, magna cum laude, from the University of Delaware in 2005. Before joining the faculty at MIT, Tisdale was a postdoc in MIT’s Research Laboratory of Electronics with Vladimir Bulović, now the Fariborz Maseeh Professor in Emerging Technology and associate dean for innovation in the School of Engineering.
The Baker Award is made possible by the Everett Moore Baker Memorial Foundation, which serves to perpetuate the memory and ideals of Everett Moore Baker, MIT's dean of students from 1947 to 1950.