UC engineering professor receives Distinguished Teaching Award

University of Cincinnati Professor-Educator of Chemical Engineering Stephen Thiel received the 2019 Distinguished Teaching Professor Award at the university’s faculty awards ceremony Thursday. The award honors UC professors who represent "the ideal of the educational profession and have made impactful contributions in teaching, curricular development, and the mentoring and supervision of students.”

Thiel’s influence as an educator reflects the academic excellence platform of UC's strategic direction, Next Lives Here

Since he was a child, Thiel knew he wanted to make a career in the sciences. Something about the hands-on nature of chemistry appealed to him, said Thiel. At UC, Thiel applies this same passion for the sciences to the classroom. Thiel teaches the year-long capstone design course taken by all chemical engineering seniors.

I really try to link the course to professional practice. I assign projects where students have to push their skills and learn to be more creative and independent

Stephen Thiel, 2019 Distinguished Teaching Professor Award recipient

“In the capstone courses, I see students develop an understanding of chemical engineering as a unified discipline,” said Thiel, speaking to his favorite part of teaching the course. “They’re able to tackle complex problems they couldn’t imagine doing at the beginning.”

Much of Thiel’s teaching strategy is rooted in his industrial experience. For nearly 15 years, Thiel worked for Henkel Corporation (later Cognis), a worldwide supplier of raw chemicals. Thiel can talk design, process economics, process safety and strategic planning – all drawn directly from his time in engineering practice.

“I really try to link the course to professional practice,” he said. “I assign projects where students have to push their skills and learn to be more creative and independent.”

And it pays off. Thiel has received numerous teaching accolades, including the Neil Wandmacher Teaching Award, Outstanding Chemical Engineering Teaching Professor and Engineering and Applied Sciences Tribunal Professor of the Year. He has been honored twice at the Darwin Turner Breakfast of Champions and three times as Master Engineering Educator.

“Professor Thiel spends so much of his time trying to do what he can for his students, regardless of how busy he is,” said one of his students, Emma Lowe. “He genuinely cares that you understand the material.”

Featured image at top: UC professor Stephen Thiel received the 2019 Distinguished Teaching Professor Award at the university’s faculty awards ceremony. Photo/Andrew Higley/UC Creative Services

Thiel talks to people at desk

“I really try to link the course to professional practice. I assign projects where students have to push their skills and learn to be more creative and independent," said UC professor Stephen Thiel, recipient of the 2019 Distinguished Teaching Professor Award. Photo/Andrew Higley/UC Creative Services

Academic Excellence

UC is committed to providing students with a highly innovative academic and professional development program. Learn more about UC's strategic direction, Next Lives Here