sealPurdue News

November 21, 2002

Purdue engineering professor named Indiana's best

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – On accolades, accomplishment and admiration alone, Purdue University Professor Leah H. Jamieson has had an epic career – particularly for her work bringing engineering expertise from the classroom into the community.

Leah H. Jamieson

Now, Jamieson, the Ransburg Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, has been named the 2002 Indiana Professor of the Year.

The award was announced today (Thursday, 11/21) by the Carnegie Foundation and the Council for Advancement and Support of Education, which administers the program.

"This is very exciting," said Jamieson, who is no stranger to professional recognition. "It is a wonderful award, but it's a little embarrassing. There are so many people involved in making it possible. I wish I could share it with all of them."

Jamieson was selected from among 15 nominees from 11 schools in Indiana. She is the seventh Purdue professor since 1987 to earn this award for, as the criteria stipulate, "extraordinary dedication to undergraduate teaching," as well as commitment to students and innovative teaching methods.

"Leah embodies everything that Purdue could ever want or expect from its faculty members," said Purdue Provost Sally Frost Mason. "She is a world-class researcher, a respected and award-winning teacher, and her work with Engineering Projects in Community Service (EPICS) denotes a profound commitment to engagement. I can think of no one here who ties all three parts of our mission – discovery, learning, engagement – together as well as Professor Jamieson."

For her part, Jamieson credits the success of the EPICS program and, in her words, its potential for "explosive campus and national growth" for her nomination and winning the award. Jamieson and Edward J. Coyle, professor of electrical and computer engineering at Purdue, co-founded EPICS in the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Purdue in 1995.

In the EPICS program, teams of undergraduates earn academic credit for multiyear, multidisciplinary projects that solve engineering – and technology-based problems for community service and education organizations.

Currently the engineering-centered program involves 20 different departments, 300 students and 24 teams working on projects ranging from homelessness prevention to environmental protection to creating toys for children with disabilities. Jamieson said she hopes to see the size of the program double in the next three to five years and by 2010 to include 1,200 students and 100 different community-outreach teams.

Furthermore, EPICS programs are now operating at 10 universities in the United States. Recently, a group of universities, led by Purdue, signed a partnership with Habitat for Humanity International, the first national EPICS outreach program.

Jamieson said the program lies at the heart of her teaching philosophy.

"You have to love what you're teaching, and you have to be able to communicate that to students so they will love what they're learning. That is so easy with EPICS.

"EPICS offers Purdue something other universities don't generally have – an outreach capability that can bring and share the exciting discoveries of a research university to the greater community."

Students and colleagues were eager to praise Jamieson on receiving her award – and for her skills in teaching and leadership by example.

Keri Lyn Kukral, now a quality engineer for the Ross Products Division of Abbott Laboratories in Abbott Park, Ill., studied under Jamieson in her senior year during the 1999-2000 school year.

"During that year I was an EPICS team leader for the Wabash Center-Greenbush Industries project, a community-service organization that employs people with various types of disabilities," she said.

"Not until I graduated with a degree in bioengineering and joined the ranks of engineers in the industry did I fully realize the tremendous impact Professor Jamieson has made on all of us as engineers and as people.

"By creating EPICS, she has given students not only the opportunity to learn the technical aspects of engineering but also how to effectively work in diverse groups and to experience the joy and reward of contributing to the community. She has touched students in a more profound way by giving us the opportunity to discover a new way to look at and to engineer the world."

William Oakes, co-director of the EPICS program and assistant professor in freshman engineering at Purdue, cited Jamieson as a role model.

"Professor Leah Jamieson is the epitome of what a university professor can be, and she is an outstanding selection for professor of the year recognition," Oakes said. "She cares passionately about her students, her university, family, community and her profession. I cannot think of a better role model for young and future faculty."

Jamieson received her bachelor's degree in mathematics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and her master's and doctoral degrees from Princeton University. In 1976, she joined the faculty at Purdue.

Jamieson's research interests include speech analysis and recognition; the design and analysis of parallel processing algorithms; and the application of parallel processing to the areas of digital speech, image and signal processing. She is the author of more than 160 journal and conference papers in these areas and co-edited two books in her areas of research.

For their work with EPICS, Jamieson and Coyle jointly received the 1997 American Society for Engineering Education Chester F. Carlson Award for Innovation in Engineering Education and Purdue's Class of 1922 Annual Award for Outstanding Innovation in Helping Students Learn for their work on the EPICS program.

Jamieson's activities with EPICS also have been recognized by the 1997 Ruth and Joel Spira Outstanding Teacher Award from Purdue's School of Electrical and Computer Engineering and Purdue's 2002 Focus Award for Disabilities Awareness.

In addition to her recognition as co-founder of the EPICS program, Jamieson has been awarded Purdue's Helen B. Schleman Gold Medallion for efforts on behalf of women students and the Violet B. Haas Award from Purdue's Council on the Status of Women. She was one of the first seven recipients of the National Science Foundation Director's Distinguished Teaching Scholars Award (2001). Jamieson also has been recognized with the 2000 Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Education Society's Harriet B. Rigas Outstanding Woman Engineering Educator Award.

The Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) established the Professors of the Year program in 1981 and works in cooperation with the Carnegie Foundation and various higher education associations in its administration.

CASE assembled two preliminary panels of judges to select finalists. The Carnegie Foundation then convened the third and final panel, which selected the four national winners and state winners. This year there are winners in 46 states including the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.

The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching was founded in 1905 by Andrew Carnegie, "to do all things necessary to encourage, uphold and dignify the profession of teaching." It is the only advanced study center for teachers in the world and the third oldest foundation in the nation.

The Council for Advancement and Support of Education is the largest international association of educational institutions, with more than 3,000 colleges, universities, and independent elementary and secondary schools in 49 countries, including the United States, Canada, Mexico and the United Kingdom. Representing these institutions are more than 38,000 professionals in the disciplines of alumni relations, communications and fund raising.

Writer: Grant Flora, (765) 494-2073,

Sources: Leah H. Jamieson, (765) 494- 3653,

Sally Frost Mason, (765) 494-9709,

Bill Oakes, (765) 494-3892,

Keri L. Kukral (614) 624-3018,

Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096;

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