Berent named a top teacher on campus

3/1/2019

Zachary Berent
Zachary Berent
MechSE undergraduate advisor and mechanical engineering PhD candidate Zachary Berent was named one of the 2019 top undergraduate teachers on campus in the teaching assistant category.

The Campus Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching is given to just a handful of instructors on campus – and only five graduate TAs – and honors sustained excellence and innovation in undergraduate teaching and contributions to learning beyond classroom instruction.

Berent has been the TA for ME 482 (Musculoskeletal Tissue Mechanics) for several semesters, where he worked to make significant instructional improvements in the lab component of the course. For his MechSE Summer Teaching Fellowship, during the summer of 2017, he was the instructor for TAM 335 (Fluid Mechanics) and helped improve the labs through development of updates to the “flow visualization” lab and designing guided worksheets for every lecture.

Demonstrating his passion and commitment to teaching, in addition to his graduate studies in mechanical engineering, Berent completed a minor in College Teaching. He was also invited to offer presentations at the Graduate College’s Graduate Academy for College Teaching, which prepares grad students for their roles as TAs.

Berent has been an undergraduate advisor in MechSE's Undergraduate Programs Office since December 2016. He has continuously focused attention on issues like inclusion and diversity as well as mental health – increasingly important topics in engineering education.

In his PhD program, with advisor Amy Wagoner Johnson, Berent investigates how stem cells become bone cells on protein-covered islands on soft gels, and trying to predict the system behavior in small and large cell systems. Upon completion of his PhD, he hopes to pursue a teaching career in higher education.

Berent will receive the award at the campus' Celebration of Teaching Excellence on April 11.