Chad Landis photo with students

Chad Landis, a professor in the Department of Aerospace Engineering and Engineering Mechanics at UT Austin, has been awarded the ASE/EM LUNAR Council Teaching Award for 2018. He was presented with a $500 check and a plaque at this year’s ASE/EM Fall Festival and Farewell to WRW joint celebration on Friday, October 26.

The award is given to one ASE/EM faculty member annually who has made a made a positive impact on students’ educational experience through superior teaching. LUNAR Council (Leadership, Undergraduate, Networking and Recruitment), a group composed of student leaders developed to create a dialogue between students and department faculty and staff, selects the recipient based on numerical data and student feedback.

Landis was selected to win this year’s award for his outstanding contributions as a professor and mentor, even to those students who had already completed his courses.

“There have been several times in my college career where Dr. Landis has been incredibly vital to my success as a student,” wrote one ASE/EM student. “In his courses he often helped me and friends after class when we were confused about course material and was willing to look over my graduate essays when I applied for graduate school and to help construct my resume for applying for academic opportunities.”

Another student writes about Landis’ gift of making difficult material more understandable, in addition to being readily available when students have questions outside of class.

“Professor Landis is an amazing teacher and person. I enjoyed his EM 306 class so I decided to take EM 319 with him. This is by no means an easy class, but Professor Landis makes the concepts ridiculously easy to understand. He conceptualizes everything which helped me visualize problems when I solve them. He was always helpful outside of class, by being available for office hours and responding quickly on Canvas and email. He is a superior professor and I’m going to miss being in his class. But I really hope to take a class with him again in the future. He totally deserves this award.”

These are just two of many student praises about Landis that were read aloud by LUNAR members during the award presentation.

Landis says he enjoys the rewards of teaching students, and that it was really hard for him to put into words how happy he felt when being recognized with the award.

“I think that a lot of people have very special memories of teachers that have made an impact on them,” Landis said. “That is especially true for academics. It’s humbling for me to think that I might have that type of impact on our students here at UT. It really is a privilege to have the opportunity to teach such wonderful students and ultimately, I just have fun doing it.”

When asked to describe his teaching style, Landis said, “As much as there is a push for new teaching styles, I would consider myself to be in the old-fashioned mold of the “sage on the stage.” That being said, my approach to teaching problem-solving to my students has evolved quite a bit over the years. I try to be enthusiastic about the material that I am teaching and to make students feel comfortable interrupting me and asking questions. The students and I are on a journey with the ultimate goal of having them discover how to be their own best teacher.”

Landis teaches courses such as statics, mechanics of solids, computational methods for structural analysis, and advanced strength of materials. He received his Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from the University of California as Santa Barbara in 1999 and joined the ASE/EM faculty in 2007. His research interests include mechanics of materials, including fracture mechanics, plasticity, micromechanics, composites, and finite element methods, with specific interests in acitve/smart materials such as ferroelectrics and ferromagnetic shape memory alloys.