Teaching Excellence Awards

 Year Awarded: 2014

Faculty Award winner

Mark Calabrese

 College of Engineering and Computer Science

 Industral Engineering and Management Systems

Long before I graduated with my Master's degree, I knew I'd want to teach someday. I was inspired by previous UCF faculty that included Dr. Martin Wanielista (Environmental Engineering & Dean), Dr. Gary Whitehouse (Dean & Provost), and Dr. Christian Bauer (Industrial Engineering). I chose to pursue my PhD, but didn't complete the dissertation due to a great and time-critical opportunity to enter Industry. However, I never wavered in my desire to teach. In 2004 I received an opportunity to teach when I was asked to become an Adjunct at my Alma mater, UCF. With that success came a request to become a full time faculty member, and an answer to my initial dream of teaching full time. I am a firm believer that teaching makes you a better student, and I have learned a great deal from teaching our students.

My first philosophy of teaching is mutual respect. I have learned that with mutual respect comes the real opportunity to have students listen to what you're saying. I also believe that communication is key to any learning environment. I am diligent in outlining students’ requirements and responsibilities so there are no misunderstandings.

My second philosophy is that teaching involves mastering the subject matter. Too many times students are taught by people who haven't "done" work in the field. It is important that I teach the things I've been responsible for in my 30-year industry career. My students’ appreciation of my experience shows when they say they've really learned because the subject was put into real-life terms they understood.

My third philosophy comes from the lesson I learned in my industry career. We have customers we must serve. I tell my students every class that they are my customers. I try to break down the mentality of hierarchy, and insist that we must serve each other to make the learning experience a lasting one.

My last philosophy is something I learned by being a father. I read once that the only thing holding a child back from learning is the parent who doesn't think they're ready or can handle it. In teaching I find the same thing. Students are ready, willing and able to learn anything you can challenge them with. Having had many "stretch goals" in my industry career, I have incorporated this into my teaching and it has been rewarding for both me and my students.

I am always ready to take on a new assignment, and hope that I am a role model in that regard. In my industry career I was known as the "tough yardage guy". I try to bring that to my teaching career, where I believe you teach by actions, not just words.