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Kristin Wood is presented with the Regents' Outstanding Teaching Award by (left to right) Board of Regents Chair Colleen McHugh, Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa, M.D., and Regent Robert Stillwell.

Kristin Wood is presented with the Regents' Outstanding Teaching Award by (left to right) Board of Regents Chair Colleen McHugh, Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa, M.D., and Regent Robert Stillwell.


Dr. Kristin Wood has been honored with the 2010 Regents' Outstanding Teaching Award, awarded by The University of Texas Systems' Board of Regents. This award is given in recognition of those who serve The University of Texas Systems' undergraduate students in an exemplary manner. Dr. Wood is one of 38 tenured faculty in The University of Texas System to win this award.

The Regents' Outstanding Teaching Award

This is a teaching award presented annually to outstanding faculty members (tenured, tenure-track and non-tenure-track)who have made significant educational contributions to the university, both in the classroom and beyond through creative innovation and methodology in education. It is one of the highest honors bestowed by The University of Texas System for educational excellence. The award is "a symbol of the importance [the regents] place on the provision of undergraduate teaching and learning of the highest order." Dr. Wood was recommended by Dr. Gerald E. Speitel Jr., Dean for Academic Affairs of the Cockrell School of Engineering, Chair Joe Beaman of the Mechanical Engineering Department, Dr. Daniel D. Jensen, Professor of Engineering Mechanics at the United States Air Force Academy, Dr. Irem Tumer of Oregon State University, Dr. Phil Schmidt and Dr. Rich Crawford of The University of Texas Department of Mechanical Engineering, and several former students, including Christina White and Rachel Kuhr.

"Teaching, at its core, is the ability to tap into the students' inquisitive nature, interests, background and creativity. Hands-on instruction, the Socratic method, active learning and a dynamic learning environment set the stage for this student-instructor relationship. Our desire, then, is not to teach students just an identified set of fundamental knowledge, but to light the flame for the students to be invigorated, to teach themselves, to innovate, and to be the next generation of entrepreneurs."

-Dr. Kristin L. Wood

Kristin Wood's Credentials

Professor Kristin Wood

Professor Kristin Wood

Dr. Kristin L. Wood is currently a Professor of Mechanical Engineering, Mechanical Systems and Design Division at The University of Texas at Austin. Dr. Wood completed his M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Mechanical Engineering (Division of Engineering and Applied Science) at the California Institute of Technology, where he was an AT&T Bell Laboratories Ph.D. Scholar. He received his Bachelor of Science in Engineering Science (Magna cum Laude, minor in mathematics) from Colorado State University. Dr. Wood joined the faculty at The University of Texas in September 1989 and established a computational and experimental laboratory for research in engineering design and manufacturing, in addition to a teaching laboratory for prototyping, reverse engineering measurements, and testing. He was a National Science Foundation Young Investigator and is currently the Cullen Trust for Higher Education Endowed Professor in Engineering, University Distinguished Teaching Professor, the Manufacturing and Design Division Area Coordinator, and the Director of the Manufacturing and Design Laboratory (MaDLab). Dr. Wood has published more than 250 refereed articles and books, and has received numerous awards that are listed on Dr. Wood's faculty page.

Dr. Wood has supervised 84 graduate students that have finished, including 18 Ph.D. students, and is currently advising five Ph.D. students on projects related to product design, development, and evolution. Such projects include design innovation, advanced manufacturing processes, such as Solid Freeform Fabrication, methods in product development, design for manufacturing and tolerance methods, machine-system design, design for product flexibility, design transformer theory, reverse engineering, and design teaching and learning methods for kindergarten through graduate levels.

Dr. Wood annually teaches several outreach short courses in Design Technology and Engineering for All Children (DTEACh). He was the conference and committee chair for the annual ASME International Design Theory and Methodology (DTM) Conference and an Associate Editor for the ASME Journal of Mechanical Design. He served as an invited panelist for the UK Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) Innovative Manufacturing Research Centers, and currently serves on the editorial board of the International Journal of Product Development (IJPD). Dr. Wood was also a founding Board Member of The Design Society, an international organization.

Dr. Seepersad responds to students' questions in her Design of Complex Energy Systems class(ME 397)

Middle school teachers learning ways to introduce robotics in the classroom in one of Dr. Wood's DTEACh classes

Teaching Philosophy

Defining Design

In all of the material that is considered to comprise an engineering education, no subject is more enigmatic than design. Indeed, the very term "design" defies a common definition amongst engineering educators. Some represent it as a "creative, intuitive, iterative, innovative, unpredictable" process, a "compound of art and science," that by its very nature cannot be fully described or explained. Others, eschewing such a nebulous definition, choose to think of it as a method of solving open-ended problems that is "a sub-set of the decision-making process in general." Despite the varied definitions, however, virtually everyone acknowledges the unique nature of "designing" and agrees that "design," above all else, defines the difference between an engineering education and a science education. Design, however we define it, represents the bridge between theory and reality. It is the process by which our ideas enter and influence the world around us. In short, "designing" distinguishes engineering education and engineering as a profession.

Hands-on Teaching

Dr. Wood has created curricula based on contemporary hands-on and active teaching styles, as well as a new concept created for reverse engineering current consumer products and systems. According to Dr. Wood's approach, the pendulum of engineering education is swinging from an emphasis of theoretical material to a balance between theory and hands-on activities. This transformation is motivated, in part, by the changing students entering engineering programs. Instead of a tinkering background with the dissection of machines and use of tools, students are now entering with computer, video games, and other "virtual" experiences. This focus, while useful, has left a void in the ability to relate engineering principles to real-world devices, applications, and general problem-solving situations. In the development of design curricula, Dr. Wood has introduced a new approach for filling this void in a mechanical engineering curriculum.

New Course Development

In particular, Dr. Wood has developed new courses, such as machine design, to include hands-on exercises and cooperative activities that address diverse learning styles. Through the application of "mechanical breadboards" and the reverse engineering of innovative products and systems, clear relationships between mechanical design principles and the reality of machine production are established. These relationships reduce the number of topics covered in the courses, but greatly increase the interest of the students, their retention of the material and their understanding of fundamentals.

Community Outreach

A DTEACh class project

A DTEACh class project

Dr. Wood has initiated multiple teaching efforts beyond undergraduate and graduate courses. Four primary efforts are:

  1. A mathematics and science curriculum for K-12 students and teachers (DTEACh)
  2. A high school Texas Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (TSTEM) program with Region XIII and Region XX of Texas
  3. An annual international broadcast to introduce engineering to middle school and high school students (called Discover Engineering)
  4. A summer Engineering Design Institute offered at The University of Texas at Austin for promising high school students.

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