Bridget Wadzuk

Teaching Statement





      I am honored and humbled to be selected by the students as a semi-finalist for the Lindback Award for Teaching Excellence.  My teaching philosophy stems from my belief that one’s time at university is an experience where students participate in activities that allow one to accumulate knowledge, skills and perspective. As an educator, it is my responsibility to create an opportunity for an experience to take place in the classroom, laboratory and extracurricular activities, such as service trips, so they participate in their education and understand the responsibility of their profession. In addition to a student’s academic goals, it is my duty to support a student in their personal goals.  

I help students build their knowledge, skill, and a sense of responsibility for their work in civil engineering. Building knowledge and skill may take the form of traditional educational methodologies, but also more expansive methodologies, including research, advising and service. I create an environment where a student is stimulated, actively participates and takes intellectual risks to develop a broad set of tools to become a forward-thinking and sound engineer. In class I use technology, demonstrations, and discussions to teach fundamentals and theories, as well as application and relevance to science and society. I do not want students to simply be able to regurgitate formulas, but to understand the theory, question the assumptions, and be able to apply new ideas to their work. Generally, I introduce a subject and move through the material while getting progressively harder. I give the students opportunity to figure out the next step in this process, which 1) allows them to be creative and stretch their understanding, and 2) gives me a metric of how well they are grasping the material. I use active research sites on campus as a way to bring together several concepts from class. I am involved in engineering service projects, which allows me to work with students in an informal atmosphere to tackle technical questions, employ “just-in-time” teaching techniques, and discuss the service component of our profession. I use these service projects as examples and problems in class, allowing students to see the immediate applicability of a concept and to have confidence that they can design engineering systems now.

I try to connect with all my students on an academic and personal level. By engaging a student, we can see each other as a person instead of a “student” or “teacher.” I take the time to learn their names, where they are from, their aspirations, and where they are going on spring break. By building a personal relationship with a student, I believe they feel more comfortable asking questions, become more engaged in class, and generally have an improved educational experience. 

In summary, my teaching philosophy is that I am there to facilitate the learning experience by sharing my own knowledge and experiences with the students that will ignite an interest and understanding of the particular subject-matter and engineering as a whole. I value students’ opinion of me and strive to cultivate that relationship and stay aware of engineering and educational practices that may enhance my students’ experience.