Four CCEE professors receive prestigious teaching awards!

At the 2018-19 University Teaching Awards Ceremony held on April 11th, four CCEE professors were honored. Drs. Douglas Call and Fernando Garcia Menendez received the Gertrude Cox Award for Innovative Excellence in Teaching and Learning with Technology. Drs. Joseph DeCarolis and Brina Montoya each received the Outstanding Teacher Award.  Read more about each below.

Gertrude Cox Award for Innovative Excellence in Teaching and Learning

Fernando Garcia Menendez, left, and Douglas Call, were honored with the Gertrude Cox Award for Innovative Excellence in Teaching and Learning.

This award, first given in 2002, honors the creative pedagogy of NC State’s faculty including integrating new technologies into effective teaching strategies. Call and Menendez were chosen for the efforts toward the redesign of CE373, Fundamentals of Environmental Engineering. CE373 is a rigorous introductory course, and is one of the first discipline specific courses for those students choosing an environmental engineering degree with the Civil, Construction, and Environmental (CCEE) department. The course covers a wide variety of topics, including drinking and wastewater treatment, air pollution, and solid waste management among others. Teaching this array of material in a cohesive way presented challenges, which Call and Garcia Menendez addressed in their multi-year redesign.   New course elements include interactive visualization and infographics that enhance problem solving skills, introductory videos from alumni discussing their careers and the importance of the course in their own training, a significantly enhanced website for the course, and an implementation of TopHat, a student engagement tool that can be used with cellphones, laptop computers, or tablets and enables interactive student polling during class, animations, and in-class quizzes.

Outstanding Teacher Awards

Drs. Joseph DeCarolis and Brina Montoya received the Outstanding Teacher Award, which recognizes excellence in teaching and makes them members of the Academy of Outstanding Teachers for as long as they remain NC State faculty. Their names will be published in the 2019 commencement program. There were only18 awardees from a field of hundreds of faculty, and CCEE was the only department with two winners.


Joseph DeCarolis received an Outstanding Teacher Award.

“I am passionate about finding solutions to difficult energy and environmental problems, which informs my approach to teaching. In my classes, I strive to get students excited about the subject matter, learn the appropriate analytical tools, and exercise their judgment to address challenging, open-ended problems.”     Joe DeCarolis

Brina Montoya accepts her Outstanding Teacher Award.

“Engineering is an ever-advancing field. To be future leaders students will need to be up-to-date with the latest technology, whether their career is in industry or academia. What better place to learn how to be an independent, life-long learner than in college?”   Brina Montoya

DeCarolis is an associate professor that joined our department in 2008 as an assistant professor. His research is focused on addressing energy and environmental challenges at the intersection of engineering, economics, and public policy. DeCarolis has developed new course content that addresses energy-related sustainability issues in a rigorous way. He created two new courses – Energy and Climate, and Energy Modeling. These courses are for advanced undergraduates as well as graduate students, and topics include basic climate science, energetics of ecosystems and humans, and the impact of greenhouse gas emissions on climate. These two courses integrate engineering and science with economics and policy in a unique and highly relevant manner. Students are introduced to energy modeling, and deliberate public policy options for addressing the climate challenge. DeCarolis has also developed three new courses in collaboration with other faculty. These include Environmental Life Cycle Assessment, Sustainable Building Design, and Introduction to Sustainable Infrastructure.

Montoya joined our department in 2012 as an Assistant Professor. Her research is focused on developing bio-mediated soil stabilization approaches to improve the sustainability and resiliency of infrastructure. Montoya has contributed to the civil engineering undergraduate education by teaching two geotechnical courses, the undergraduate soil mechanics course and the undergraduate foundation design course. She also developed Physico-Chemical and Biological Aspects of Soils Behavior, a graduate level course, and revamped the Engineering Properties of Soils course. Additionally, she recently begun teaching the graduate foundation design course where integrating her experience as a consulting engineer has been an asset to the course.

In addition to research and teaching, DeCarolis and Montoya have mentored numerous graduate students to completion of masters or doctorate degrees.