The UMass Amherst Center for Teaching and Learning's selection committee has chosen Assistant Professor Omar Abdelrahman of the Chemical Engineering Department as one of eight recipients of the 2023-24 Lilly Fellowship for Teaching Excellence. According to the Lilly Fellowship Program, “This is a significant achievement given the highly competitive nature of this teaching leadership opportunity.” Each fellow will receive $6,000 in summer salary and a $3,750 transfer to the fellow after successful completion of the fellowship.

Participation in the Lilly Fellowship Program involves work over the summer, nine cohort meetings and assignments during the academic year, a new course design (or significant redesign of an existing course), and the sharing of the accrued knowledge after the fellowship.

Abdelrahman’s participation in the Lilly Fellowship Program will enable him to design and teach a new course focusing on effective communication in the discipline of chemical engineering in particular and all engineering fields in general.

According to Abdelrahman, “The envisioned course, titled ‘Engineering Communication,’ would provide students with the core principles and skills required to be an engineer [who] can communicate effectively, both to a technical and non-technical audience. The course would be broken down with core areas of written, oral, and visual-based communication.”

Abdelrahman explains that written communication will engage students in the ideas behind writing effective lab reports, scientific documents, and short-form communication such as emails, which are all essential skills required for their success as professional engineers. 

Meanwhile, oral communication will focus on various forms of presentation, considering both the audience and desired goal. 

Visual communication, as Abdelrahman says, will focus on the art of figure making; for example, teaching students the importance of anticipating the needs of a prospective reader or audience.

Omar course image
Example of transforming a standard figure generated by Microsoft Excel into one that is visually accessible

As Abdelrahman says, “I am excited to create the course on engineering communication, where I hope it will serve as an engaging and vital tool that all UMass Amherst engineering students can add to their already expanding skill set. Ultimately, what I would love for students to take away from the course is the ability to be effective communicators of science and engineering.”

Abdelrahman heads the Abdelrahman Research Group, which he says, “focuses on developing fundamental understandings relevant to catalytic surfaces and its application to sustainable technologies, facilitating the utilization of existing and non-conventional carbon resources. Interests in the group branch into three main focuses on catalyst discovery, characterization, and kinetic modeling.

Abdelrahman’s research group is also committed to advancing accessible and affordable science through developing and disseminating experimental designs aimed at lowering the barrier to entry in catalysis research (Instructionals | umasscatal).”

Before doing postdoctoral research at the University of Minnesota, Abdelrahman earned his PhD in Chemical Engineering at Syracuse University and his BSc in Chemical Engineering at the American University of Sharjah. (April 2023)

Article posted in Faculty