Gangbing Song, a professor in the Cullen College of Engineering’s department of mechanical engineering, measures his achievements in one distinct way. “My students’ success is my success,” he said. But now, his success can be measured by another metric: he’s been chosen as the 2014 recipient of the John and Rebecca Moores Professorship.
The Moores Professorship is a university-level honor awarded annually to a University of Houston faculty member who has made outstanding contributions in research, teaching and service. Each Moores Professor receives a stipend, and the professorship is renewable every five years. Song says the award is the unequivocal highlight of his 2013-2014 school year.
Song came to the United States in 1989 after he graduated from Zhejiang University. He says his time at Zhejiang helped shape the teaching methods he employs today. “Zhejiang University is ranked number three in China. It’s a very good university. The professor to student ratio is such that we received a lot of personal attention from professors. So that’s what I try to do while I’m teaching at UH, I pay a lot of attention to students.”
As a professor, Song says he focuses on creating an environment of support and friendship with his students. He keeps in touch with many of them long after their days at UH. “I enjoy seeing them be successful after graduation,” he said. “I hope they [would describe me] as a great mentor and a friend.” He says teaching his students to perform research is particularly important to him. Song’s research includes smart materials and structures, including adaptive control, robust control, dynamics, robotics, and friction compensation. He is the founding director of the Smart Materials and Structures Laboratory.
Song calls his research, and experimentation in general, “very rewarding,” but the central focus of his teaching career remains his students. “Professors who care about their students are the great professors. That’s what I try to be.”