Van Wie receives lifetime award for pedagogy achievements

Closeup of Bernie Van Wie standing outside on the WSU Pullman campus.
Bernie Van Wie

Bernie Van Wie, a professor in the Gene and Linda Voiland School of Chemical Engineering and Bioengineering, has received the 2024 Donald R. Woods Lectureship Award for Lifetime Achievement in Chemical Engineering Pedagogy.

As part of the award from the Chemical Engineering Division of the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE), Van Wie will give a lecture on his work at the national ASEE meeting in June in Portland, Oregon.

The Donald Woods award is given for lifetime achievement “recognizing a sustained career of contributions to pedagogical practice, scholarship, and mentoring that not only caused innovative and substantial changes, but also inspired other educators to new behaviors that benefit students in Chemical Engineering,” according to the ASEE website.

During his career, Van Wie developed hands-on desktop modules for conducting engineering experiments that are used at more than 50 universities around the U.S. and the world. He began work on developing a low-cost, small footprint set of engineering experiments in the early 1990s when he was teaching fluid mechanics and heat transfer. He saw that students needed to see and do engineering to understand it well. He is quick to say without his colleagues, graduate students, and faculty willing to use these modules his efforts would not have succeeded.

Van Wie developed hands-on desktop modules for conducting engineering experiments that are used at more than 50 universities around the U.S. and the world.

The portable modules are made of clear plastic and allow students to observe flow patterns of water through fluid chambers and heat exchangers to understand difficult concepts. Working on problems in teams of three or four, students have the chance to learn collaboratively about the physical meanings behind the terms in their engineering equations. 

The modules have been used in chemical and mechanical engineering courses, including fluid mechanics, heat transfer, and kinetics. The hands-on devices can be used directly in the classroom, unlike other expensive devices on the market that need a functioning laboratory.

The learning modules have been shown to improve understanding of engineering concepts. Van Wie’s research teams have shown students who use the hands-on modules in classes improve significantly in conceptual understanding compared to control groups. Students also build collegiality through the activities, which transfers to success in other classes.

Van Wie’s work has been supported by the National Science Foundation, USDA, the Norcliffe Foundation, the World Bank, and Washington State University. He also received a Fulbright award to share his work in Nigeria. He has received several other awards, including an award for innovation in chemical engineering education from the American Institute of Chemical Engineering.

In addition to his research in pedagogy, Van Wie conducts research in bioprocessing and biosensing. He holds a bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees in chemical engineering from the University of Oklahoma.

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