Celebrating innovation and leadership in teaching within MME

Posted on March 16, 2021

The Innovation in Teaching and Leadership in Engineering Education awards recognize outstanding contributions to learning, as well as innovation and leadership in educational practices. Meet the two Professors within the Department of Mehcanical and Materials Engineering who have been honoured by the Faculty for their commitment to our students and their creative approaches to teaching.

Dr. Alan Ableson – Leadership in Teaching award

Dr. Alan Ableson

Teaching calculus, algebra and mathematical methods in the Mechanical and Materials Engineering department, Ableson is dedicated to staying on top of new technology to develop his curriculum. “It’s hard work to create new content and methods, but I think it’s vital to continue to find the best ways to teach our students,” he says. “It’s especially critical now, when it’s more challenging to engage them remotely.”

Ableson’s nominator says that “Alan Ableson is the instructor that I send other instructors to when they have questions about using educational technology.” An earlier career in Arts & Science gave him the opportunity to learn about best practices in online learning, a skill that has become quite valuable during the pandemic. “Instead of lectures, we are creating engaging videos that students can watch before class,” he says. “That allows us to use the class time for more active discussions.”

Ableson says he is noticing that students are taking time in breakout sessions to check in on each other and interact, building a sort of virtual community. “I miss the students and being able to chat with them, both about academics and their personal experiences,” he says. “That’s all part of the Engineering community that we are used to on campus. I can’t wait for that to happen again.”

Dr. Roshni Rainbow – Innovation in Teaching award

Dr. Roshni Rainbow

University professors are naturally expected to carry course loads as part of their work. But unlike their elementary and secondary school colleagues, they don’t typically get formal training in teaching. A unique program at Tufts University in Boston provided Dr. Roshni Rainbow with the opportunity to hone her teaching skills – talents that she has brought with great success to Queen’s.

“The IRACDA postdoctoral program at Tufts is designed to teach future professors to be both researchers and effective teachers,” she says. “I had the opportunity to learn more about various teaching practices that incorporate experiential methods, such as problem-based learning, blended learning techniques, and teaching with technology.” One method that she has applied involves taking a cross-course approach to learning, introducing activities in one course that are directly related to a design exercise in another. 

Rainbow’s style has been well received and also recognized with a Silver Wrench honour, awarded to professors by graduating students in Mechanical and Materials Engineering. Her nominator also noted her emphasis on experiential learning and a focus on a safe and positive  learning environment.

Rainbow says she is passionate about teaching and working with students. “I actually really like it when they ask me a question that I don’t know the answer to,” she says. “I can look it up and then we’ve both learned something!”


Drs. Alan Ableson and Roshni Rainbow are only two among the four who have recieved awards for their contributions. Read the full article which entails all the professors within the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science who are being recogonized, by clicking here: https://engineering.queensu.ca/news/2021/03/celebrating-innovation-and-leadership-in-teaching.html