ASEE recognizes Amos for teaching excellence

4/18/2018 Laura Schmitt

Written by Laura Schmitt

Bioengineering Teaching Associate Professor Jenny Amos has been selected to receive the 2018 American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) Illinois-Indiana Section Outstanding Teaching Award—one of 12 regional ASEE teaching awards nationwide.

An Illinois Bioengineering faculty member since 2009, Amos has had a major impact on students in the classroom, on the Bioengineering undergraduate curriculum, on the College of Engineering's ABET accreditation process, and on the new engineering-driven Carle Illinois College of Medicine's curriculum. 

Bioengineering Teaching Associate Professor Jenny Amos
Bioengineering Teaching Associate Professor Jenny Amos

Most students know Amos as the course director for the yearlong capstone design class, where seniors apply their accumulated knowledge to develop innovative solutions for today's medical problems under the supervision of physician, faculty, or industry mentors. Amos has incorporated design thinking, regulatory guidelines, and business savvy into her classroom instruction—things that are sometimes neglected in engineering education.

Amos has also taught Transport and Flow in Bioengineering, a junior-level class that applies fluid dynamics to biomedical issues. According to senior Aashay Patel, Amos used a case-study teaching approach, requiring the students to act as bioengineering experts in medical malpractice lawsuits or forensic investigations.

"We truly had to operate with limited information and constraints and the answers were not at all obvious," said Patel. "This was the best simulation of the real world that I have experienced in a classroom."

Not surprisingly, Amos is selected each year to the campus Incomplete List of Teachers Ranked as Excellent by students enrolled in her classes.

Beyond the classroom, Amos played a lead role in redesigning the Bioengineering undergraduate curriculum, creating immersive, need-focused courses that address real-world biomedical problems. She was a key player on the Illinois faculty team that received $2 million from the National Science Foundation to fund this curriculum redesign. 

With her experience in curriculum design and assessment, Amos has become the campus expert on ABET accreditation—a national organization that evaluates and certifies engineering schools. For the last five years, she has been in charge of the College of Engineering's ABET accreditation and she's currently helping them prepare for a site visit next year.

This past year, Amos took on a new assignment as leader of the curriculum committee at the Carle Illinois College of Medicine on campus, where she works with teams of engineers, clinicians, and basic scientists to create case prototypes and assessment strategies.

In the process of developing the College of Medicine's groundbreaking curriculum, Amos has identified new ways to merge physiology and medicine back into her own Bioengineering courses. Ultimately, bioengineering undergraduates stand to benefit.

Bioengineering graduate student Gabs Dupont knows firsthand how influential Amos is with students, having taken her undergraduate courses and currently conducting education research projects with Amos.

"Dr. Amos has been a great mentor and fantastic teacher to me and many other bioengineering students," said Dupont. "Perhaps more importantly, she is leaving a lasting and valuable mark on the bioengineering department through curriculum development and teaching."

Amos will receive the teaching award at the ASEE Illinois-Indiana Section annual conference in March 2019 at the University of Evansville.

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This story was published April 18, 2018.