Mar 22, 2016 | Atlanta, GA
Each year, the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia recognizes two faculty members for outstanding contributions to the scholarship of teaching and learning. This year, Bonnie Ferri was unanimously selected for the 2016 Regents’ Scholarship of Teaching & Learning Award. This award will be presented to Ferri at the annual Regents’ Scholarship Gala on April 29, 2016 at the St. Regis Hotel Atlanta.
Ferri is being recognized for her longstanding commitment to engineering education and innovative use of technology, her prolific publication record, and her influence on other faculty at Georgia Tech. A faculty member in the Georgia Tech School of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) since 1988, Ferri was the first female Ph.D. graduate in electrical engineering at Georgia Tech and was ECE’s first female faculty member. She has served as the School’s associate chair for undergraduate affairs since 2013 and was its associate chair for graduate affairs from 2006-2012.
Ferri has introduced inexpensive, portable hands-on experiments into ECE courses, including core lecture-based courses that traditionally had no laboratory component. She has also redesigned the core circuits courses, taken by both ECE and non-ECE majors, to use innovative flipped and blended classroom techniques driven by course analytics. By implementing these tools and responding to student feedback, student engagement and performance has dramatically improved, as well as consistency in coverage and quality across multiple sections of the courses.
“I love the ‘aha moment’,” said Ferri. “I see it all the time with the hands-on experiments in class, when students’ eyes light up because an abstract concept comes to life and suddenly makes sense. You would be surprised at how many just break out laughing because they get such a kick out of it. That reaction is the best part of teaching.”
Through a National Science Foundation (NSF) grant, Ferri created the Teaching Enhancement through Small-Scale Affordable Labs Center to develop and integrate these portable experiments across the ECE curriculum. Approximately 3,000 students per year use these devices in ECE courses, taught by over 25 instructors. Over 700 K-12 students have also been exposed via camps, workshops, and tours of ECE facilities. Ferri has also been awarded an NSF grant with researchers at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Virginia Tech, Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, Howard University, and Morgan State University. Their goal is to build a community of developers and users of these experiments that are not only centered on ECE topics, but can be expanded to other STEM fields.
Ferri has been consistently involved in educational issues within the Georgia Tech community. She currently co-chairs the “Commission on Creating the Next in Education,” charged with making recommendations for the Institute to become a leader in innovative and effective education and co-curricular programs. During 2013-2014, she led the GT1000 Review Task Force, which reviewed the status of this freshman seminar course and made recommendations on how to enhance its effectiveness in providing resources and advice to promote student success in college.
Ferri has also had an international impact on engineering education. She has conducted NSF-sponsored workshops at premier engineering education conferences, devised and shared best practices at numerous cross-disciplinary events, and published her work on student learning, strategies, and results in the top conferences and journals in the field of engineering education. She was an invited speaker at a National Academy of Engineering symposium on education.
“Bonnie’s reputation among students and colleagues consistently upholds not only the tremendous impact that she has had on our students, but also the caring and compassionate heart she has for them, her clear vision of their potential, and her ardent desire for their success,” said Steven W. McLaughlin, Steve W. Chaddick School Chair and ECE professor. “We sincerely appreciate her many years of hard work and dedication to our students and to improving our instructional programs.”