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Dr. Michael Webber (center) with Dr. Pedro Reyes, EVC of Academic Affairs at UT System (left), and Chancellor Cigarroa (right) receiving the award for induction into the University of Texas System Academy of Distinguished Teachers.

Dr. Michael Webber (center) with Dr. Pedro Reyes, EVC of Academic Affairs at UT System (left), and Chancellor Cigarroa (right) receiving the award for induction into the University of Texas System Academy of Distinguished Teachers.

Dr. Michael Webber, an associate professor who joined the Department of Mechanical Engineering in 2007, was recently invited to join the University of Texas System Academy of Distinguished Teachers and elected a Fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) .

Webber possesses both a vision and a passion for clean energy and the sustainable management of global natural resources, as well as the drive to champion his vision through many channels. His creativity and enthusiasm for energy education have made him a powerful voice influencing policy in America and increasingly worldwide.

The UT System Academy of Distinguished Teachers

To be selected for the Academy of Distinguished Teachers, nominees must be previous recipients of the Regents' Outstanding Teaching Award. UT System's goal in granting both awards is to foster and sustain excellence in all aspects of instruction. Michael Webber received the Regents' Outstanding Teaching Award in 2011.

In 2012, the Academy of Distinguished Teachers was established to recognize outstanding educators across the nine University of Texas System academic institutions, including The University of Texas at Arlington, Austin, Brownsville, Dallas, El Paso, the Permian Basin, San Antonio, Tyler and The University of Texas-Pan American. Honorees become members of a System-level advocacy group dedicated to enhancing teaching, fostering innovation in the classroom and promoting interdisciplinary perspectives on education across the entire UT System.

The ASME Fellow: A Membership Grade of Distinction

ASME defines a Fellow as one "who has attained a membership grade of distinction, at the time of advancement shall be a corporate member of the Society, shall have been responsible for significant engineering achievements, and shall have not less than 10 years of active practice and 10 years of corporate membership in ASME."

Dr. Webber was nominated for this award by two active ASME members, Jared Garrison, one of his graduating Ph.D. students recently profiled on this site, and Dr. Koneru "Rama" Ramakrishna , a thermal engineer with Hewlett-Packard Company.

ASME Fellowship citation:

For his contributions to convergence of policy, technology, and resource management related to energy and the environment; for his ground-breaking research on the energy-water nexus; for mentoring the next generation of energy leaders through multi-disciplinary and high-impact research; for his educational work in the collegiate classroom; for his extensive efforts in energy literacy through general interest articles, new educational programs on public television and radio, and a globally-available online energy course that reached nearly 45,000 students, all of which heighten public awareness to the current energy issues and policy; and for his engagement with policymakers through briefings and congressional testimony.

Highlights of Michael Webber's career

Prof. Webber trains the next generation of leaders in the field of energy and environment through teaching and research. In his research, he has successfully accomplished a unique convergence of engineering, public policy, and technology development and commercialization. Ramakrishna writes, "This is truly an amazing mix of scholarly activity, academic and public service combined in the greater good of the society."

Scholarly writing, patents and a massive open online course (MOOC)

Webber has authored or coauthored over 150 peer-reviewed scientific articles and holds four patents. As a teacher, he has developed seven energy-related courses for online and in-class audiences, ranging from the general public to the graduate level. His massive open online course (MOOC) served tens of thousands of students from 171 different countries.

Teaching evaluations

His students find him an excellent teacher, and in the past year Webber received his highest student evaluations ever with an overall instructor rating of 4.8 and a course rating of 4.6. He created two new freshman signature courses, one in a seminar format for 19 students, and one in a lecture format for 102 students.

Research team

Webber's motto is "Changing the way the world thinks about energy," and he feels the best way to do that it to have something worthwhile to say and then to say it well. Therefore, his research group includes researchers from undergrads to post-docs and a fully equipped team of multimedia professionals who help create digital education tools. He has supervised dozens of undergraduate and graduate students: to date he has graduated nine Ph.D. students and 21 MS students. He is currently supervising another five Ph.D. students and seven MS students on multiple projects. Two of his former students serve as professors at universities across the country, while others work worldwide on energy-related issues in graduate programs, business, policy and federal and state government.

Mass media: film and radio

In addition to teaching and research work, he and his team produced a television special called Energy at the Movies, which is syndicated on PBS in 27 states, reaching an audience of more than 110 million people. This past year, he launched a radio segment titled "Energy in Popular Culture" through an affiliation with KUT, the local NPR station. The show covers some of the ways energy intersects with popular culture. Topics include the energy-water nexus, energy at the holidays, energy and zombies, and more. He also serves as a contributing editor to ASME's Mechanical Engineering Magazine and serves on the advisory board of Scientific American.

University Service

His service to the university is extensive, too. He has won several teaching awards in his short time as a professor: the Dad's Centennial Teaching Award in 2010, a teaching award for assistant professors from the Cockrell School of Engineering and the Regents' Outstanding Teaching Award in 2011. He also serves on several Graduate Service committees.

The department congratulates Dr. Webber and his team on all their recent success and Dr. Webber on both well-deserved awards.

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