The telltale signs of being an automotive engineer for more than 25 years can be seen with a quick look into Robert Garrick’s office. From the valves and camshaft on his shelves to the intake manifold on his desk, he makes technology both an art form and practical teaching tool.
Garrick, associate professor in the manufacturing and mechanical engineering technology/packaging science department of the College of Applied Science and Technology, came to RIT in 2008. Prior to this, he had worked as a product team leader and research engineer at Delphi’s Technical Center. While at Delphi, he was involved in product design, developing different automotive components similar to the ‘art’ he displays in his office.
His ability to connect technology and experiential learning for his students was instrumental in his recognition as the 2009-2010 Richard and Virginia Eisenhart Provost’s Award for Excellence in Teaching recipient. The award is given to a faculty member who has taught three years or less at RIT and is recognized for their pursuit of excellence in teaching and leadership in the campus community.
“A real strength in CAST is the applied experience that the faculty has, with many faculty members having 20 or 30 years of practice in their fields,” he says. “Sharing the perspective of real-world applications helps students look beyond just getting a grade in a class. It helps them realize they are called to a career that has so much potential to solve problems and impact peoples’ lives.”
Garrick takes that vision of solving problems and learning beyond the classroom by mentoring students in undergraduate research projects, and is faculty co-advisor for the student club, Creative Adaptive Tools. This team of students works to develop tools and equipment for disabled populations.
“A student that is driving to find the answers to their own internal questions will go far beyond the basic expectations of the class,” says Garrick.
The natural curiosity he sees in students is encouraged. He likes to include students in different research projects of his or mentor students as they pursue their own research objectives.
Garrick commented how he was very pleased that the culture at RIT values teaching through training, teaching conferences such as the Faculty Institute on Teaching and Learning and senior faculty mentoring junior faculty. He noted that his teaching success has been helped through the interactions with senior faculty in his department and college, who met with him regularly, provided feedback, shared their successes, and encouraged new approaches to teaching courses.
“I’m extremely humbled to receive this award,” he says. “It’s wonderful, and I look forward to continually learning from others to carry on the tradition of outstanding teaching at RIT.”