Bill Bishop, Jill Urbanic, Mehrdad SaifEngineering professor Jill Urbanic (centre) accepts congratulations from Bill Bishop of the Sandford Fleming Foundation and Windsor engineering dean Mehrdad Saif on receiving the Wighton Fellowship on Friday.

Professor honoured for innovation in teaching engineering

A recent national award recognizing her innovative teaching of laboratory-based courses would not have possible without the support of her colleagues in the Faculty of Engineering, says Jill Urbanic.

An associate professor in the Department of Mechanical, Automotive and Materials Engineering, she received the Wighton Fellowship from the Sandford Fleming Foundation and the National Council of Deans of Engineering and Applied Sciences at a luncheon in her honour Friday in the Centre for Engineering Innovation. The fellowship, which includes a $3,000 stipend, has been awarded annually since 1987 and is named in honour of the late J. L. Wighton, who taught engineering at the University of Regina.

“This couldn’t have happened if the infrastructure and the environment weren’t here at the school,” said Dr. Urbanic. “A lot of my colleagues are doing fantastic things as well and I am hoping to see them get more recognition.”

Urbanic says her years of experience in industry before joining academe has informed her belief in providing students with hands-on activities. Design is core to the profession,” she says. “All of these labs are meant to give students an understanding of the basic building blocks they will use in their practices.”

She says she wants students to learn not only the fundamentals of physics, but judgement and decision-making, as all these elements are required to support the engineering design process.

“The university environment is an incubator for safe risk,” says Urbanic. “The education we provide has to be immersive and experiential to prepare students for their professional careers.”

Dean of engineering Mehrdad Saif nominated Urbanic for the fellowship and calls it a “very prestigious” award.

“This is quite an achievement for Jill, and well-deserved,” he says. “This is a great honour for her as well as the Faculty of Engineering.”