Electrical Engineering Professor Gerhard Paskusz, founder and director of the college's highly successful Program for Mastery in Engineering Studies, will be recognized as a new Fellow Member of the American Society for Engineering Education at the organization's national conference in Nashville this June.
Paskusz was happily surprised by the honor, especially since his election by other fellows came on a rare first-time ballot. "It's an honor," says Paskusz, a member of the organization since the mid 1950s. Throughout most of those years, he served as a member of the ASEE's Division of Educational Research Methods, a division known for generating new ideas and new methods of teaching and learning.
Paskusz has made key contributions to the development of innovations in teaching, particularly methods for students struggling with the academically rigorous curriculum of engineering. His work helped pioneer a team-based approach that places the student in the roll of the teacher, a method that has been shown to boost grades and graduation rates for typically under-represented classes of students.
"It's almost axiomatic that students can communicate with their peers better than the instructor can," Paskusz says. Those same methods form the foundation of the state-funded "Redshirt Camp" program being conducted by the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering to help boost pass rates for difficult sophomore-level courses.
In 1974, Paskusz started PROMES (pronounced "promise") with eight students and has served as its director since then. The program has more than 500 members today. The PROMES objective is to increase the number of educationally disadvantaged students who graduate with a degree in engineering. Paskusz received the national Reginald H. Jones Award in 1995 for his contributions in that national effort.
Paskusz, the author of several books and articles on minority education programs and teaching innovations, received his B.S. degree in engineering from UCLA in 1949 and the Ph.D. in engineering also from UCLA in 1961. After teaching at UCLA for several years while getting his Ph.D., he joined the University of Houston faculty in 1961 as an associate professor. He was promoted to professor in 1968 and served as associate dean for undergraduate studies from 1968 to 1976.
In the early and mid 1960s, before turning his focus to undergraduate studies, Paskusz played a key role in building and launching the graduate programs in the Department of Electrical Engineering, which was later renamed the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering.
The American Society for Engineering Education strives to further education in engineering and engineering technology. The mission is accomplished "by promoting excellence in instruction, research, public service, and practice; exercising worldwide leadership; fostering the technological education of society; and providing quality products and services to members."