Professor wins engineering society’s Robert G. Quinn Award

RIT’s Surendra Gupta commended for his teaching focus on cutting-edge technology and techniques in an academic laboratory setting

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Laboratories are the places where theory and application become connected. Engineering professor Surendra “Vinnie” Gupta provides opportunities for his engineering students to understand those important connections.

For his work in this area, Gupta was presented the Robert G. Quinn Award by the American Society of Engineering Education. The award, one of the most prestigious given by the society, is presented in recognition of his many contributions in providing excellence in laboratory-based education, training and research. It was presented to Gupta at the society’s most recent annual meeting and conference, June 16 in Indianapolis.

The award was one of several given to the professor of mechanical engineering at Rochester Institute of Technology. He also received two certificates in recognition of his efforts as ASEE Campus Representative for RIT’s Kate Gleason College of Engineering in the areas of recruiting the most new professional members and achieving the highest percentage of faculty membership in the St. Lawrence Section of the national society, where he has been the engineering college’s representative since 1987.

The Quinn Award is the culmination of a career that Gupta said remains focused on learning in the laboratory setting and providing students with the tools to help them learn engineering concepts and apply them best. Since he came to RIT in 1981, he has been instrumental in setting up key labs in the engineering college and in creating innovative experiments and measurement techniques in the areas of materials testing and characterization using X-ray diffraction and scanning probe microscopy.

In the award nomination, Gupta was recognized for being a dedicated engineering educator who exposes his students to cutting-edge technologies used in industry.

“He has trained many students and postdoctoral researchers in the use of this equipment to advance education and research in materials science, imaging science, microelectronic and microsystems engineering,” said Harvey Palmer, dean of the Kate Gleason College of Engineering, in his nomination of Gupta. “He created a new graduate elective course titled “Micro- and Nano- Characterization of Materials” that has a weekly lab component. The course is much sought after by students from a number of engineering and science departments.”

Outside of the classroom, Gupta has led research initiatives focused on recruiting transfer students from two-year schools into RIT’s engineering and engineering technology undergraduate degree programs, and work in this area has resulted in high retention and graduation rates.

He has also had numerous leadership assignments at all levels: department, college and university. He served on RIT’s Academic Senate for six years and chaired the Institute Effective Teaching Committee for two years. He has won numerous ASEE awards including the Zone I Outstanding Campus Representative Award and the St. Lawrence Section Outstanding Educator Award. The Pittsford resident has also received an American Society of Mechanical Engineering Curriculum Innovation Award and at RIT, been named an Eisenhart Award winner, the latter given for excellence in teaching.