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2008 Distinguished Teaching Professor: Rodney Roseman

Rod Roseman knows the importance of teaching and research to a university. His research material is very organic: It’s the students who matter.

Date: 5/10/2008
By: Wendy Beckman
Phone: (513) 556-1826
Photos By: Lisa Ventre
Roseman, 2008 recipient of the Distinguished Teaching Professor Award, obviously cares about students. His first attempt at college immediately after high school was not very successful though.  It only lasted one year.  “So I went to work as a truck mechanic and eventually as a firetruck mechanic.”

Roseman liked working on firetrucks but the toll that the job was taking on his knees and back after 13 years was catching up to him, so his wife suggested that he give college another try.

Relying on her teaching job to support the family, they sold the house and moved their family of four so that he could attend a junior college. 

After two years of junior college, Roseman applied to a baccalaureate program at the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana.  He went on to earn his Bachelor’s, Master’s and PhD in engineering, all at the University of Illinois.

In 1994 he came to UC as a postdoctoral researcher. After a couple of years, when a teaching position came open in materials engineering, he applied for it. Roseman says that he became interested in teaching and caring about the students from a different perspective because he was a little older than the typical faculty member in the same position.

“My daughter was in her senior year in high school at the time, and I was taking her around looking at colleges,” he says. “So I was seeing it through the eyes of someone thinking, ‘Would this be good enough for my kid? Is this how I want my kids to be taught?’”

That attitude has stayed with Rod Roseman in his career at UC. In his new position with the newly formed Engineering Education Department, he has become a mother hen to the students. The Engineering Education Department was formed as a non-degree-granting department to focus on the process and success of educating students in the College of Engineering.

Along those lines, one of the student-focused initiatives of the College of Engineering is the Engineering Alumni Learning Center. Until the plans are a reality, however, today’s engineering students can find a home on the fourth floor of the Engineering Research Center. The center is staffed with tutors Monday through Friday and, beginning in the autumn quarter, will be staffed with peer groups taking turns supplying peer tutors.

“This way, all the student organizations who normally offer peer tutoring collaborate to provide solid coverage without losing their individual identity as a student group,” says Roseman. “Meanwhile, students who need help always know where to go.”

Roseman also looked at what advising, mentoring or tutoring was available to engineering students in general as part of a bigger analysis of the rates of success for students in the College of Engineering.

He has also been highly involved in changing the freshmen engineering program (FEP).  Beginning in the autumn quarter, the program will include a complete series of freshmen courses that will focus on mentoring, advising and tutoring, along with offering an overview of engineering disciplines. Now, with the assistance of the first-year learning communities, students are discovering how to work in groups, developing a sense of belonging, and creating friendships with peers in the engineering programs right from the start.

“Every engineering department is going out of its way to improve their own curriculums and introductory classes,” says Roseman. “It’s added a real excitement to the college.”

He smiles and adds, “There seems to be a move to break the stereotype of engineers’ being cold, non-people people.”

Starting with this one.