The Society of Petroleum Engineers Faculty Grant for Innovative Teaching recently recognized The University of Texas at Austin Department of Petroleum and Geosystems Engineering Associate Professor David DiCarlo for his expertise and cutting-edge teaching techniques by presenting him with the 2013 SPE Teaching Excellence Award.
Honoring faculty who commit to excellence as well as innovation, the SPE award is part of a global awards program that aims to encourage others within academia to adopt comparable techniques “in order to support the attraction and retention of faculty.” Eligibility for the award requires a third-party nomination and faculty members considered for the award must also teach at a university with an active SPE chapter program. Known for his Socratic teaching method, in which he calls on at least 10 students by name per class and asks them a qualitative question to which they have to provide a short answer, DiCarlo is recognized as a faculty favorite among students. He consistently receives high performance reviews from his students and relates his subject matter to practical applications within industry. DiCarlo also adopts a traditional approach to teaching that he says he finds more effective—writing notes on the blackboard.
Although many professors find PowerPoint slides a quick and easy technique, DiCarlo observes that students learn effectively in the real-time action of physically writing course notes as it involves them more in the class. “I believe that graduating well-educated, well-rounded petroleum engineers is the crux of this department’s mission,” he says. “I’m thrilled to win the SPE Teaching Excellence award, and I’m glad that my efforts in achieving this goal have been recognized by SPE.” As an active member of SPE and current faculty advisor for the UT Austin student chapter, DiCarlo logs many hours helping with chapter events and participating in networking sessions. He also organizes the SPE Student Paper Contest and assists students as they refine their competitive presentations.