Innovation Leans In

by A.J. Kleber

Innovation and engineering for the good of society are valued highly at Boston University’s College of Engineering, but often we tend to think of these qualities as aimed outward from our classrooms and laboratories. The ECE department’s own Professor Bobak Nazer stands as an excellent example of the application and implementation of technological innovation right in the engineering classroom; a role that has earned him the University’s 2024 Gerald and Deanne Gitner Family Award for Innovation in Teaching with Technology.

Professor Nazer, who currently serves as the department’s Associate Chair for Undergraduate Programs, put considerable time and effort into reworking EK 381: Probability, Statistics, and Data Science, a college-wide required course which for years had been taught in multiple sections by faculty with entirely different approaches and curricula, leading to a notably uneven learning experience for students. Not only did Nazer work with his colleagues to create a consistent curriculum for the class, but he spent hundreds of hours developing a 49-episode video lecture series (with accompanying study materials) for his “flipped classroom” approach, with an emphasis on providing an equitable, accessible learning experience. Popular with students, his series has been viewed more than 120,000 times across 50 countries, and featured in the ASEE (American Society for Engineering Education)’s Prism Magazine.

The Gitner Family Award, which  is given in recognition of the innovative use of technology by an instructor or team towards “positive learning outcomes for undergraduate students” and which is also “adopted by faculty colleagues within or outside BU.” Selection is made by the Provost’s office, and a $10K stipend accompanies the award.

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