Professor Quackenbush makes engineering more human. As a professor of geospatial engineering in the Environmental Resources Engineering department she puts her energy into teaching, her students and her family.
Undergraduate students know her as their professor from ERE 133 Introduction to Engineering Design and previously she taught ERE 371 Surveying for Engineers. Both undergraduates and grad students take ERE 553 Introduction to Spatial Information. Learn more about her teaching and research here.
Knowing each of her students is a priority and part of why she enjoys teaching ERE 133 Introduction to Engineering Design. This class is taken by second semester freshman who get an overview of the design process, graphic communication and writing for engineers. This is a relatively new class in the ERE curriculum, but it serves an important purpose – to introduce students to the department much earlier in their careers at ESF.
Previously, students didn’t take very many engineering classes until their junior year. Freshman and sophomores spend most of their time taking general education classes and calculus, physics and chemistry classes that are prerequisites for engineering courses. Because this class is focused on group design projects, the students get to know each other as well.
As a former student of Professor Quackenbush I have experienced firsthand how much she values teaching. She explained that for her, teaching is something that’s easy to put a lot of time into because she likes it. I’m not surprised that she won the 2010 ESF College Foundation Award for Exceptional Achievement in Teaching.
Teaching classes with a hands-on component is important to her. Applying theories discussed in lectures makes them tangible and useful. This helps to engage students in the material, along with her open invitation to ask questions in her classes. An old radio commercial used to feature a professor who reprimanded students for interrupting him during class. Professor Quackenbush was irked by this message and sincerely hopes to be interrupted by students.
When possible, she presents the content of her classes in a variety of ways to be inclusive of different learning styles. In her surveying class, I appreciated having concepts explained with verbal definitions, numerical equations with examples, diagrams and then going out into lab and playing with it.
We learned that our data will always be imperfect and limited. Sometimes we learned this the hard way in surveying lab with a big slice of humble pie when we needed to re-take our data points after a miscalibration.
Outside of engineering, her main hobby is photography. It is fun to hear her talk about photography as spatial data and then about photography as art. She has a home studio and most frequently takes picture of her family. A photo she took of her daughter, is currently exhibited in the New Hartford Library as part of a Weekend in Central New York show (Her photograph is #20).
It was refreshing to hear Professor Quackenbush talk about making her family a priority. Frequently, I feel like college is this funny little bubble of life experience where most people are between the ages of 18 and 25 with professors and other grown-ups making intermittent appearances.
She talked about how hard it is to have the school nurse call her if her daughter is sick and have to ask her husband to pick her up. It is harder to be the mom in that position, she said. Talking about family makes the last test I was stressing out about seem insignificant.
I appreciate that she devotes so much of her time to teaching and her students and know that my classmates and I will be better engineers for it.