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Top 20 under 40 spot for Engineering's Micah Stickel

Recognized for innovative teaching methods

(photo by Wayne MacPhail)

He pioneered the use of what's known as an inverted classroom at U of T Engineering, was one of the first in his Faculty to teach entirely using a tablet PC, and he calls himself “a facilitator of experiences, not a deliverer of content.”

Micah Stickel, a senior lecturer in The Edward S. Rogers Sr. Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering, was recently named to the American Society for Engineering Education’s Top 20 Under 40. (The list is the cover story for the current issue of ASEE Prism, the society’s magazine.)

Stickel was cited for his experience-based teaching approach, including his use of the flipped or inverted classroom, where students learn some of the material through readings or videos before class and use class time to do what might previously have been considered homework, with the instructor and fellow students. (Read more on inverted classrooms at U of T.)

"There are lots of technological opportunities now to make our classrooms more engaging," says Stickel, pointing to handheld devices known as iclickers that allow students in class to answer questions anonymously.

"I get instant feedback, seeing where the class is at and how much of them picked up what we were just talking about," he says. "It also gives them the time to absorb and take in what we were just discussing and use it – apply it directly. I can pose a question, give them a few minutes to think about it, get them to talk to one another about it and it's amazing how much and often the students as a whole in the class move to the right answers."

Stickel was one of the first in the Faculty to adopt tablets in his teaching, replacing the blackboard with annotations on the tablet, and he has published three papers assessing the tablet’s effectiveness as a teaching tool. One of these, “Lessons Learned From the First-Time Use of Tablet PCs in the Classroom” resulted in his selection as a new faculty fellow at the 38th annual Frontiers in Education conference in 2008.

While still an undergraduate himself, Stickel had a moment of clarity where he saw how concepts from class “were actually being put into practice,” he told Prism. His desire to bring that realization to other students has been his focus since he was a TA, the piece explains. [Read the complete article - PDF]

Since 2012, Stickel has served as first-year chair of the Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering. He has won four departmental teaching awards and the Faculty’s early career teaching award.

“We are very proud to have teachers such as Micah who are committed to reimagining engineering education,” said Professor Farid Najm, chair of ECE. “The enthusiasm he brings to the classroom is obvious to his students, and it’s wonderful to see his excellent work recognized in this way.”

Prism is the flagship publication of the American Society for Engineering Education, a non-profit association of more than 12,000 engineering faculty members, U.S. colleges of engineering and engineering technology, corporations and other organizations dedicated to promoting excellence in engineering and engineering technology education. Stickel serves as the University of Toronto’s representative to the ASEE.

A Unique Learning Experience: Dr. Micah Stickel | Chair, First Year from U of T Engineering on Vimeo.