UC engineering professor honored for excellence in teaching
Gregory Bucks was celebrated at the university's annual faculty awards event
Gregory Bucks, Ph.D., associate department head and professor in the Department of Engineering and Computing Education at the University of Cincinnati, is recognized by students and colleagues alike as an embodiment of teaching excellence, the heart of the Mrs. A.B. "Dolly" Cohen Award.
Bucks joined the Department of Engineering and Computing Education (DECE) in 2012, after receiving his Ph.D. in engineering education from Purdue University. His research interests lie in first-year pedagogy and program assessment as well as conceptual understanding of fundamental computing concepts. With this research, he has helped develop and evolve the first-year engineering course sequence taken by all students in the College of Engineering and Applied Science (CEAS) at UC. Since joining the department, Bucks has received the CEAS Neil Wandmacher Teaching Award, the CEAS Master Educator Award and was recognized by CEAS Tribunal as the Professor of the Year for the 2019-20 academic year, an honor chosen by students.
"I never intended to go into academia," Bucks said.
He decided to pursue a master's degree during an economic downturn, which led to his first teaching assistant appointment. It was here that he found his purpose in education while acting as a mentor for students. In his nearly twenty years of teaching, Bucks' view of the education process and the way he approaches instruction has continued to evolve.
"As a teaching assistant, I discovered my passion for mentoring students ... and ultimately how I could help them understand material better," Bucks said. "Teaching and mentoring students is one of the most rewarding things I've ever done, and I truly can't imagine doing anything else."
When he joined the department at CEAS over a decade ago, he brought his passion for teaching — and innovative ideas of how to teach effectively — with him into the classroom. Research shows students who actively engage in course material in a real-world context perform and learn better compared to those who are passively participating in class. Bucks has incorporated this real-world learning through several projects and courses within his department. An honors seminar course titled "Engineering your Community" places students in teams to design problem-solving solutions for staff members and residents at a local facility for individuals with neurological diseases.
"Bucks' approach to teaching stimulates independent work by students that leads them to be creative, self-directed learners," said P.K. Imbrie, head of the Department of Engineering and Computing Education at UC.
Another aspect of Bucks' unique approach to teaching is his inverted classroom structure. Students spend their time in his classroom participating in hands-on, group focused activities where they can ask questions and receive feedback, instead of listening to a lecture and being tasked with problem-solving on their own. By allowing students to collaborate and get real-time assistance, they are better prepared to solve these problems on examinations and out-of-class assignments.
Teaching and mentoring students is one of the most rewarding things I've ever done, and I truly can't imagine doing anything else.
Gregory Bucks, UC College of Engineering and Applied Science
Bucks values the feedback that he gets from students. His career as an instructor has been dedicated to the education, motivation and success of young engineers. His impact at the University of Cincinnati is invaluable and is displayed in the attitudes of both current and former students.
"I originally signed up for classes with Dr. Bucks at an introductory level. After having him for these courses, I continued to consult him for mentorship throughout my college career," said Jacob Wells, a former student of Bucks. "Later in my education he invited me to participate in a project-based course to apply my engineering skills. Although I was not in a position to take the course for credit, I gladly participated in the class because I knew Dr. Bucks would make it a meaningful experience."
Featured image at top: Gregory Bucks receives the Mrs. A.B. "Dolly" Cohen Award at UC's 2023 Faculty Awards reception. Photo/Provided