It is often the goal of an educator to be an inspiring teacher, to be enthusiastic not only for his discipline, but for those he teaches.
A prime example of one who does this well is Binod Tiwari, professor of civil and environmental engineering, who was honored today (May 19) as the recipient of Cal State Fullerton’s 2016 Carol Barnes Excellence in Teaching Award.
“I’m thrilled and honored,” said Tiwari, who was surprised as University Provost José L. Cruz made the announcement of the University’s top teaching honor at the Academic Senate. “This award inspires me to do more and more to help Titans reach higher.”
Cruz noted some of Tiwari’s many accomplishments and teaching accolades, including the Distinguished Faculty Service Award from CSUF’s Alumni Association and the Distinguished Engineering Educator Award from the American Society of Civil Engineering, Orange County branch.
Bottom line, Cruz said: “When Dr. Carol Barnes retired from Cal State Fullerton and the University recognized her career by naming this prestigious award in her honor, she asked only that future award recipients meet the same high standards of scholarship and teaching that she set for herself. I can say with confidence, this year’s honoree has done exactly that.”
President Mildred García agreed. In a letter Cruz read, she wrote: “His work is not only leading the high-impact practice charge, but also serving as a springboard for our aspiration to become the model public comprehensive university of the nation.”
Tiwari added that as a teacher, he strives to prepare his students for careers in industry and academia.
“The most important thing is I try to enhance the confidence of students in understanding the subject matter,” he said.
Current and former students praise his ability to get young scholars excited about engineering, while colleagues note his deep passion and caring.
“His ability to motivate his students to become lifelong learners, to look for ways to improve and challenge themselves and eventually become leaders in their chosen career path, shows that his teaching goes beyond the course syllabus and definitely beyond his call of duty,” said graduate student Duc Tran.
Mathematics professor Scott Annin, who co-chaired with Tiwari a 2014 undergraduate research conference that attracted more than 1,500 participants, called Tiwari’s commitment to serving students and the institution exemplary.
“You will not find a harder worker,” said Annin. “He is a champion for our students; he has mentored a whole host of them, and he has bolstered his students’ future through journal papers, presentations and grants that he has involved them in.”
Since joining the University in 2006, Tiwari has taught and developed freshmen to graduate-level courses, mentored students in the classroom and the lab, and incorporated real-world applications in addition to important concepts from textbooks.
The internationally known expert in his field holds a doctorate in geotechnical engineering from Niigata University in Japan. For his research, which focuses on slope stability, natural disaster/landslide mitigation and geotechnical earthquake engineering, he has received more than $1.5 million in external funding.
His mentorship to more than 100 students on research projects has led to their presenting at regional and national engineering competitions and conferences. And through his guidance, his students have won numerous awards, including the national Geo-wall competition in 2014 and 2015.
His students have landed careers in industry and pursued advanced degrees. One such student is Beena Ajmera, who after earning her doctorate at Virginia Tech rejoined her mentor last fall as a colleague and assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering.
“One of the characteristics that I admire about Dr. Tiwari is his desire to see students succeed and his willingness to go the extra mile to make this happen,” said Ajmera ’12 ’11 (B.A. mathematics-applied; B.S., M.S. civil engineering). “He is constantly looking for ways to showcase his students and help them build a bright and successful future.”
Beyond the classroom, Tiwari has led a summer engineering program for high school students since 2008, and for several years, taught engineering courses to professors from Duy Tan University in Vietnam.
Tiwar has conducted research in Japan and Nepal and was a member of the American Society of Civil Engineers’ post-disaster assessment team in Japan following the 2011 earthquake and tsunami. After the 2015 Nepal earthquake, he co-led a post-earthquake reconnaissance team of geotechnical experts. He also is a board member of the International Consortium on Landslides.
The award, established in 2006, is named for Carol Barnes, emeritus professor of elementary and bilingual education.