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Jason McCormick honored as Arthur F. Thurnau Professor

Associate Professor Jason McCormick has been recognized for his outstanding contributions to undergraduate education.

Associate Professor Jason McCormick has been recognized for his outstanding contributions to undergraduate education as one of this year’s Arthur F. Thurnau Professors. The 2018 honorees were approved Thursday by the Board of Regents.

Criteria for Thurnau professorships include a strong commitment to students and to teaching and learning, excellence in teaching, innovations in teaching and learning, a strong commitment to working effectively with a diverse student body, a demonstrable impact on students’ intellectual or artistic development and on their lives, and contributions to undergraduate education beyond the classroom, studio or lab.

McCormick, Associate Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering, co-pioneered a new approach to show civil and environmental engineering students how structural systems are designed and how they can fail.

In his approach, students use virtual reality to visualize and interact with components from multiple angles in a 3-D lab, so they can “feel” how massive loads are carried down from structure to foundation.

McCormick has been selected by students three times to receive the American Society of Civil Engineers Student Chapter Faculty Award, and they have requested more use of such learning approaches in the curriculum.

He is a faculty adviser for teams that compete in national competitions for earthquake engineering and steel bridge projects. His mentorship extends to teamwork and the cultivation of diverse new generations of young leaders. Under his guidance, the Steel Bridge team went from having no female members to women regularly “holding leadership roles in technical areas like design, fabrication, and project management,” wrote one student.

His attention to developing an inclusive pipeline of talent extends from supervising undergraduate research students to outreach to local elementary and middle school populations.

The professorship is named after alumnus Arthur F. Thurnau and supported by the Thurnau Charitable Trust. Recipients receive $20,000 to support teaching activities, including travel, books, equipment and graduate student support.  The appointment is a title a Professor will retain throughout their U-M careers. Other Civil and Environmental Engineering Thurnau Professors include Aline Cotel, Jeremy Semrau and Steven Wright.

Read the original article about Jason and the other professors honored in The University Record.


Portrait of Mason Hinawi
Mason Hinawi

Marketing Communications Specialist
Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering