McCormick School of Engineering, Northwestern University
News from McCormick
McCormick Names Winners of Cole-Higgins Awards for Excellence in Teaching and Advising
Dirk Brockmann, Aaron Packman honored for work with students
Dirk Brockmann, associate professor of engineering sciences and applied mathematics, has won the 2012 Cole-Higgins Award for Excellence in Teaching, and Aaron Packman, professor of civil and environmental engineering, has won the Cole-Higgins Award for Excellence in Advising.
Students nominated professors for the annual honor, and a committee chose the winners. The awards were announced December 12.
Students praised Brockmann for his tough but clear classroom teaching skills as well as his willingness to give extra help, often one-on-one, outside of class time.
“Professor Brockmann is one of the greatest professors I've ever had,” wrote one student nominator. “He shows that teaching math is not about mechanically repeating a process but understanding deep physical concepts and applying them in real life applications. Vector calculus is one of the hardest courses I've ever taken and Professor Brockmann not only made it bearable, but amazingly interesting. I looked forward to going to his classes every day.”
Brockmann's systems research involves everything from transportation networks to infectious diseases. He has developed computational models, new analytic and numerical techniques, and large-scale quantitative and predictive computer simulations to study various aspects of the dynamics of epidemics.
On his award, Brockmann, an expert in complex systems, was cited “for having an outstanding capacity to give personal attention to individual students, no matter whether they are enrolled in foundational or advanced courses.”
Advising award-winner Packman, who studies environmental and microbial transport processes, was cited “for service to students seeking advice related to career progress, laboratory research, and student professional societies.”
“In my meetings with (Professor Packman), I often come prepared with a laptop and a schedule pulled up with my plans for how I will complete the BS/MS program. By the end of the advising session, my Excel sheet is usually completely different from what it had been before,” wrote one student nominator. “With a personal interest in my education, he has helped me customize my schedule in a way that best prepares me for the international development work I want to do in the future.”
A member of the McCormick faculty since 2000, Packman analyzes and models environmental transport processes, integrating fluid mechanics, aquatic chemistry, and environmental microbiology to predict the transport of reactive substances under complex hydrodynamic conditions.