Dr. Amy Hsiao recognized by Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Newfoundland and Labrador for teaching excellence

May 27th, 2014

By Jackey Locke

Dr. Amy Hsiao recognized by Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Newfoundland and Labrador for teaching excellence

Dr. Amy Hsiao, a mechanical engineering professor and chair of the Board of Studies of the Master of Engineering Management (MEM) program in the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science, is the 2014 recipient of the Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Newfoundland and Labrador’s (PEGNL) Teaching Award.

Dr. Hsiao received the award for her exemplary contribution to the teaching and learning of engineering at Memorial University. The award not only recognizes exemplary teaching, but also personal teaching effectiveness, leadership and outreach and continuing education activities.

Dr. Hsiao has been teaching materials science, engineering entrepreneurship and engineering management courses at the undergraduate and graduate levels since 2009. In her cross-appointment with the Faculty of Business Administration, she teaches organizational behavior and has had the opportunity to interact with MBA and MEM students through distance education, in the classroom, on projects and in competitions.

“There is quite a bit of planning that goes into classroom, online and laboratory learning,” said Dr. Hsiao. “Positive interaction is just the tip of the iceberg. What is underneath is all the planning, thought and follow-up that I do to try to make it an overall great learning experience.”

It doesn’t matter how many times I’ve taught a course, it’s always about trying to improve and find effective ways of demonstrating and understanding the material. I care quite a bit about my interactions with students, their well-being, how they learn, and seeing them develop their knowledge, interests, and initiative. I find that the students value their engineering education and most of them take quite a bit of ownership in their progress – this is a great starting point for learning, teaching and student-interactions.”

When she’s not teaching university students, Dr. Hsiao participates in the WISE-NL Student Summer Program for female high school students interested in science and engineering, leads the Teacher-in-Service program through the NL chapter of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) and she has designed a materials science demonstration kit for K-12 science teachers to use in their classrooms. She judges local high school science fairs, is a volunteer representative for Memorial at high school advising events, and has been involved with the Shad Valley Program at Memorial since 2009. In addition, she has published and presented on engineering entrepreneurship, materials science, experiential learning and engineering management education at annual conferences.

“Dr. Hsiao’s instruction fuelled my desire to pursue a degree in engineering,” said WISE NL participant Jennifer Careen. “Dr. Hsiao provided me with an invaluable learning experience. She always made sure that I understood the task at hand and I always knew what was expected of me. She has a friendly, approachable personality. She always made time to speak with me whenever I needed help with an experiment.”

“Dr. Hsiao's class was my first introduction to business concepts during my engineering degree—and it packed a punch,” said Gillian Langor, who too Engineering Entrepreneurship during her final year of mechanical engineering and is now living in San Francisco working at a digital design agency doing business strategy. “I still remember most of the concepts from the course and have fond memories of our group projects. Dr. Hsiao’s lectures catered to different learning styles and were always carefully planned. My class featured a roster of guest speakers, group projects, presentations, traditional lectures, and animated discussions. Dr. Hsiao takes the responsibility of teaching very seriously; it's no joke to show up late to her class, miss a deadline, or goof around. In my experience, if you're ready to learn in her class, Dr. Hsiao is generous with her time and endlessly supportive. 

On a personal level, I would like to thank Dr. Hsiao for the support and advice that she offered me, and many others, as I considered options for graduate school. She offered perspective based on her personal experience for which I will be forever grateful. Additionally, Dr. Hsiao's varied projects at MUN and in the broader engineering community demonstrate of depth of experience and impact that should be celebrated. She is truly an asset to the Faculty of Engineering. Congratulations, Dr. Hsiao!”

While being recognized for your teaching is no doubt one of the highest honours for any university professor, for Dr. Hsiao, this award is about recognizing her family and mentors.

“It means a lot to be the 2014 recipient of the PEGNL Teaching Award,” she said.  “These kinds of recognitions always make me reflect on everything that has led me to this point. I think I have to start with my parents, who provided cool, artistic and scientific experiences growing up. They allowed me to be independent and find my own passions. This award really is in recognition of my family and my mentors along the way in research and teaching who are examples and sources of encouragement for me.”

Dr. Greg Naterer, dean, Engineering and Applied Science, says that Dr. Hsiao’s contribution to the faculty as a teacher and as a faculty member is outstanding and valuable to the faculty’s success.

“Dr. Hsiao is a dedicated teacher who works very hard every day to be the best she can be for the benefit of her students,” said Dr. Naterer. “Her positive, hands-on approach and commitment to teaching are invaluable to the faculty as a whole. She is very deserving of this award and recognition.”

Going forward, Dr. Hsiao plans to keep doing what she’s been doing all along – staying focused and enthusiastic.

“There is a vibrant group of colleagues in mechanical engineering and engineering management who are effective educators and have also been recognized for their excellent teaching, so it is really great to be in this successful learning and work environment.”

The Master in Engineering Management program is a unique professional degree focused on training and developing engineers for managerial positions in technology-based sectors important to the province, nation and world.


Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science

230 Elizabeth Ave, St. John's, NL, CANADA, A1B 3X9

Postal Address: P.O. Box 4200, St. John's, NL, CANADA, A1C 5S7

Tel: (709) 864-8000