"The whole art of teaching is only the art of awakening the natural curiosity of young minds for the purpose of satisfying it afterwards." -- Anotale France
Dr. Qin enjoys research yet she considers teaching the most rewarding experience for anyone working in academia. Since 2015, Dr. Qin has been teaching Principles and Applications of Engineering Materials (MSE 2001) to almost 900 non-MSE major engineering students. Since 2012, Dr. Qin has been teaching Fundamentals of Nanomaterials and Nanostructures (MSE4330) and Advanced Nanomaterials (MSE 6405) to 350 undergraduate and 148 graduate students, with average CIOS scores of 4.7 for each course. In recognition of her inspirational passion for teaching, sustained record of teaching excellence, and dedication to the success of students, Dr. Qin received the GT-CETL/BP Junior Faculty Teaching Excellence Award (2015), the Geoffrey G. Eichholz Faculty Teaching Award (2018–2019), the Provost Teaching and Learning Fellow Award (2018–2020), and the Class of 1940 W. Roane Beard Outstanding Teacher Award (2020).
Curriculum Development: Dr. Qin is passionate to educate the students at all levels with an increased understanding and appreciation of materials science and nanoscale science and technology through student-focused curricula. Since 2015, Dr. Qin has been teaching a core course–MSE 2001, Principles and Applications of Engineering Materials–to non-MSE major engineering students from AE, BME, ChBE, ISYE, ECE, ME, and NE. Dr. Qin constantly refines the syllabus and lecture materials to make this core course attractive and exciting while enriching the students’ learning experience regardless of their majors. She puts an emphasis on the structure-property relationship of materials in the context of atoms and chemical bonding by leveraging the student’s knowledge of introductory chemistry. She also introduces technology-driven applications of materials through a strong connection to the properties. This course has been well-received, serving as a powerful vehicle to encourage students to consider MSE as a major or minor for their undergraduate training. Part of the success should be credited to the students who shared their “liked” and “disliked” remarks through close interactions with Dr. Qin during the office hours, post-exam surveys, and COIS surveys. The feedback enables Dr. Qin to “learn” from her students, in particular, those who use very different languages in their own disciplines, to implement changes in her lectures for better engaging students in the classroom. For example, Dr. Qin always encourages students to bring their questions to office hours during which she could have another opportunity to explain the concepts. In fact, these questions greatly help Dr. Qin identify the “weak” points in her initial discussion of some key concepts and so she can try a different angle to explain the subjects more clearly. The two-way interactions between the students and teacher have become an essential component in addressing some of the major challenges associated with the teaching of such a large class of students with extremely diversified background and knowledge. It is truly amazing to engage students proactively and work collaboratively with them to achieve effective teaching and learning together.
Since 2012, Dr. Qin has been teaching upper-level undergraduate and graduate courses–Fundamental to Nanomaterials and Nanostructures (MSE 4330) and Advanced Nanomaterials (MSE 6405). As the applications of nanomaterials and nanotechnology proliferate, there is an ever increasing demand for scientists and engineers who can think, measure, and process at the nanometer scale. To meet this demand by undergraduates and graduate students from AE, BME, CHBE, CHEM, ECE, ME, MSE, and PHYS, Dr. Qin carefully designs both courses with different modules that include the physical and chemical concepts of nanoscience; characterization and fabrication of nanomaterials; and case studies of advanced nanomaterials for a broad spectrum of applications. To promote a better understanding of important concepts discussed in the lectures and to provide opportunities for the students to appreciate the practical aspects of methodologies, Dr. Qin also implements one-week-long lab sessions for the students to spend time working on the synthesis and characterization of nanomaterials in the Qin research lab and the Institute of Electronics and Nanotechnology (IEN). Such an integrated approach to bringing lab components to the classroom has been applauded by all the students. .
Student Success: Since 2012, Dr. Qin always strives her very best to teach all courses with her wholehearted dedication to the success of every student and commitment to fairness. Within a short period of time, Dr. Qin has emerged as one of the most popular teachers for MSE 2001 because her class enrollment has been increased more than 88% (from 68 to 96 and 128) in the span of 2015 to 2017. Students highly applauded her enthusiasm in teaching the subject and the respect and caring for her students. Dr. Qin always prepares extremely well for each of her lectures, and most important, she is willing to walk extra miles to adjust the lecture content according to student’s feedback and remarks during the semester. Dr. Qin provides all possible resources, including lecture slides, important concept sheets, rubric for all quizzes and exams to the T-square in a timely fashion. More significantly, Dr. Qin always makes herself available for out-of-class meetings in her office. She truly cares and goes above and beyond to make sure students who are struggling are able to get the help they need. For example, Dr. Qin gives a quiz every week in order to keep the students on top of materials throughout the semester and she always makes rubrics immediately after the quizzes. For the sake of fairness, she carefully reviews each individual copy of student quizzes and exams, even for such a large class with a student population between 70 and 128, before their final scores are posted. Dr. Qin makes herself available to address any questions about grading during office hours or scheduled meetings, from which she is able to achieve a better understanding of the challenges faced by students with different backgrounds. Dr. Qin always encourages the class to participate in after-the-exam survey, including their assessment on the degree of exam difficulty, their expectation on the performance (or grade), and their recommendation on the improvement of teaching effectiveness. For those students who had a poor performance on the exam, Dr. Qin often sends email invitations to schedule individual meetings during office hours or at the students’ convenience (even weekends) to reiterate the class materials, work on homework and exam questions, and show them how to improve the performance. Dr. Qin truly values and respects all questions from her students through personal conversations and COIS class surveys, from which she continuously refines her class materials and improves the clarification of her lectures to enrich the learning experience of all students.
Undergraduate Research: Dr. Qin’s commitment to undergraduate education goes farther than just the classroom. She is fully deveoted to cultivating an environment for undergraduate students to engage in research as soon as they embark on their college education. She is a strong believer that hands-on research experience will greatly help the students develop scientific knowledge, effective problem solving skill, self-directed learning talent, effective collaboration capability, and intrinsic motivation. Since January 2012, Dr. Qin has enjoyed working with one high school student, five freshmen, and eleven junior or senior students on a number of research projects related to plasmonic nanomaterials. Specifically, the students were offered an opportunity to learn about the challenges in rational synthesis of bimetallic nanocrystals with unique properties and develop the technical competence to characterize the nanocrystals using state-of-the-art tools. In addition to working with graduate students in the lab, the undergraduate students meet with Dr. Qin weekly or biweekly to discuss experimental details, analyze data, and plan for future experiments. Three of the GT-MSE undergraduate students were awarded the PURA grants (fall 2014, spring 2017, and fall 2017). Among them, Junki Kim and Daniel Wang served as the second author of two ACS Nano articles published in 2016 and 2017, respectively. Junki Kim also received the 1st place award in the 5th Annual School of Materials Science and Engineering Undergraduate and Graduate Poster in spring 2017. When Junki presented his work at the Materials Research Society (MRS) spring meeting, his work was also nominated for the Best Poster Award. Jonathan Li, a rising senior student from Duluth High School in Atlanta, contributed to the first publication from the Qin lab during his NSF-supported summer internship in 2012. His original work with Qin earned him recognitions as a semifinalist of the 2013 Intel Science Talent Search (STS) and a 2012 semifinalist and regional finalist of the Siemens Competition. After graduation from Columbia University with a BS degree in 2017, Jonathan is currently working for the Wall Street in New York City.