Professors Vineet Kamat and Carol Menassa Awarded 2024 Provost’s Teaching Innovation Prize for Advancements in Engineering Education through Virtual Reality

By integrating virtual reality into the curriculum, they have fostered an innovative, experiential learning environment.

This year, CEE Professors Vineet Kamat and Carol Menassa have been awarded the 2024 Provost’s Teaching Innovation Prize, an award dedicated to honoring faculty who have developed innovations in pedagogy. Professors Kamat and Menassa received the award for their project Digital Sandbox for Experiential Model-Based Engineering Education. 

Sponsored by the Office of the Provost, the Center for Research, Technology and Learning and the University Library, the Teaching Innovation Prize is an annual award that recognizes five U-M faculty members or teams who have ​​developed an innovative project that presents a new approach to teaching and student learning. By recognizing these standout faculty members and their projects, U-M hopes to continue to encourage future developments in pedagogy. Nominations to the Provost’s Teaching Innovation Prize are assessed based on the originality of the project’s approach, the demonstrated significant impact on teaching effectiveness, potential for use by other faculty and potential for widespread implementation. 

Portrait of Vineet Kamat
Vineet R. Kamat

This year, the Teaching Innovation Prize encouraged project nominations in two domains: Anti-racist teaching and innovations to disrupt patterns of educational disenfranchisement, and strategies that help students understand the potential uses and limitations of Generative AI tools. Kamat and Menassa’s project, Digital Sandbox for Experiential Model-Based Engineering Education, utilizes virtual reality to allow students to work in digitally rendered construction environments from the classroom, enhancing their learning experience and creating more experiential learning opportunities. 

“Construction is one of those fields that is well-suited for ‘learning by doing.’ However, due to its scale, it has been nearly impossible to recreate field construction experiences while teaching,” said Professor Kamat. “This project leveraged decades of our prior experience in visual simulation to digitally recreate construction environments in classroom settings. This idea of exploiting model-based engineering using virtual reality was novel when it was conceived, but is today popularly known as “digital twins.” The impact it has had on our students’ learning is phenomenal, and we are grateful that this effort has been recognized with the TIP award.”

Portrait of Carol Menassa
Carol Menassa

“It is a great honor to be receiving this prestigious teaching award,” said Professor Menassa. “A few years ago, Vineet and I started working on integrating digital models in our construction engineering and management curriculum. We know that students appreciated these changes to our curriculum, and we are glad that our efforts are now being recognized by the TIP award.”

The recipients of the prize, including Professors Kamat and Menassa, will be recognized this May at the annual campus-wide teaching and instructional technology conference, Enriching Scholarship. Awardees will be asked to share their innovations with the UM community at Enriching Scholarship, other campus-wide events, and with the academic world more broadly. 

Congratulations to Professors Kamat and Menassa for this achievement!


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Portrait of Mason Hinawi
Mason Hinawi

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