Offering a balance of humor and everyday examples
2013 Silver Circle Award
Since 1966, the Silver Circle has been presented to some of UIC’s best teachers. What makes the award especially meaningful is its selection committee: the graduating seniors.
Lecturer in mechanical & industrial engineering
College of Engineering
Saeed Manafzadeh was once a UIC student.
Now, as a lecturer, he makes sure students learn something new each time they come to his class.
“I find that teaching effectively requires a balance of humor and everyday examples,” he says, adding that simple experiments students can do on their own helps them better understand technical concepts.
Manafzadeh says he cannot see himself anywhere other than UIC.
“You see people from every walk of life and you realize that as much as you are here to teach them, there is a great deal that they can teach you.”
His interest in teaching was inspired by the late Harold Simon, his adviser and one of the engineering department’s most respected instructors. It was then he realized that engineering is unlike any other field.
“There is nothing more exciting to me than to be surrounded by this kind of groundbreaking creativity each and every day,” says Manafzadeh, who has received five other teaching awards in addition to two Silver Circles.
After completing his graduate degrees and postdoctoral research at UIC, he returned to his native Iran to become a professor at the Sharif University of Technology in Tehran, the country’s top technical school. He returned to UIC’s faculty in 1998.
Manafzadeh teaches a spectrum of courses ranging from beginning to advanced, mainly in mechanical engineering.
“But I have to say the course I enjoy teaching most is introduction to thermodynamics,” he says.
“It’s a tough class for the students. It’s their first chance to take everything they’ve learned from math and physics and apply it to understanding real-world engineering.”
Manafzadeh hopes to advance further on an end-of-year program survey seminar he developed to get undergraduates’ feedback on their college experience. The seminar so impressed the accrediting American Board of Engineering Technology that similar courses are being set up for all UIC engineering departments.
Manafzadeh says he’s thrilled to have won the Silver Circle Award for the second time.
“I’ve always known that I wanted to teach, and to get this affirmation once again means the world to me.”