MSE 101 instructor recognized for innovations in first-year learning

Dr. Scott Ramsay receives the 2015 Early Career Teaching Award


Dr. Scott Ramsay (centre) with MSE chair Professor Jun Nogami (left) and Dean Cristina Amon (right) | Photo by Roberta Baker

April 27, 2015 | By Luke Ng

Not every first year engineering class gives students the opportunity to fire a 0.22 calibre rifle or watch their instructor break a cinder block on another professor’s chest over a bed of nails. But in Dr. Ramsay’s class—you do.

These are just two examples of lecture demonstrations Dr. Scott Ramsay (MSE MASc 0T4, PhD 0T7) developed to actively engage students in his Introduction to Materials Science (MSE 101) class, a course taught to about half of the first-year students across the Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering.

mse101_ballisticpendulum Ramsay-Nogami_CinderBlockExp_MSE101

Securely-sealed ballistics chamber containing a 0.22 calibre rifle used to illustrate high strain rate impact testing (left); and, Dr. Scott Ramsay breaking a cinder block on MSE department chair Professor Jun Nogami over a bed of nails to showcase materials stress and force relationship over a distributed area

On April 23, Dr. Ramsay was honoured with the Faculty’s Early Career Teaching Award in recognition of his demonstrated excellence in teaching. He was among 11 U of T Engineering faculty and staff members applauded for their above-and-beyond service at the annual Celebrating Engineering Excellence reception.

Dr. Ramsay began a complete overhaul of MSE 101 several years ago that dramatically enhanced student engagement and experience in this large, introductory course. His improvements include implementing portable tabletop labs that don’t require laboratory space and short online videos explaining key course concepts.

Currently, Dr. Ramsay is spearheading a project to create multimedia reusable learning objects related to materials science, which can be used across multiple courses and departments. He is also developing the open online course ‘Introductory Chemistry from a Materials Perspective,’ which will be offered next year.

In 2012, Dr. Ramsay received the Wighton Fellowship from the Sandford Fleming Foundation, a national award recognizing excellence in laboratory teaching.

“It is my privilege to bring everyone together to celebrate another year of extraordinary achievements at U of T Engineering and to thank all of you for contributing to our shared success” said Dean Cristina Amon. “On behalf of the Faculty, I offer warm congratulations to the outstanding recipients of this year’s staff, teaching and research awards.”

With files from U of T Engineering Strategic Communications