Lape Awarded Distinguished Teaching Professorship at Princeton

Nancy Lape, associate professor of engineering at Harvey Mudd College, has been awarded the William R. Kenan, Jr. Visiting Professorship for Distinguished Teaching at Princeton University. The award is given to individuals “who have set standards for exceptional scholarship and distinguished teaching.”

Selected for demonstrated excellence in teaching and for her capacity to bring new ideas in undergraduate teaching to the campus, Lape will spend her 2018–2019 sabbatical year at Princeton. She’ll teach an undergraduate course and engage in other activities aimed at improving teaching at Princeton, such as workshops for faculty and graduate students, demonstration lectures and classroom visits.

“The William R. Kenan, Jr. Visiting Professorship for Distinguished Teaching is an exciting opportunity to teach and learn from other professors in another rich research environment,” says Lape, who adds that she’s also looking forward to exploring Princeton’s teaching and learning centers and hearing more about the university’s work on its sequence of integrated science, mathematics and engineering freshman courses and how this might inform potential revisions to Harvey Mudd’s Core Curriculum.

Lape joined the Department of Engineering at Harvey Mudd College in 2005 and serves as the director of the Patton and Claire Lewis Fellowship in Engineering Professional Practice. Her research focuses on energy-efficient composite gas separation membranes and chemical transport across human skin. She received a B.S. in chemical engineering from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, and a PhD in chemical engineering from the University of Minnesota. In 2009, she received a prestigious National Science Foundation CAREER Award.

Lape is interested in finding innovative approaches to engineering education. With fellow Harvey Mudd faculty Rachel Levy and Darryl Yong, she conducted a four-year controlled study of flipped classroom instruction at Harvey Mudd. Their work, which provides evidence-based recommendations to STEM educators, was publicized widely, including in the Los Angeles Times and in Slate.

Lape also co-authored an award-winning paper that describes the redesign of the College’s Engineering Systems course from the lecture model to a model that includes active learning (flipped classroom) tutorials and hands-on practicums. The paper “Integrating Theory and Hands-On Practice Using Underwater Robotics in a Multidisciplinary Introductory Engineering Course,” won second place in the First-Year Programs Division and first place for presentation in the same division at the 2017 ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition. Lape and Department of Engineering colleagues Lori Bassman, Christopher Clark, Albert Dato, Angela Lee, Matthew Spencer and Erik Spjut, and Director of Institutional Research and Effectiveness Laura Palucki Blake, collaborated on the paper, which includes results that show major increases in student learning and increased positive attitudes toward engineering.

Lape is a member of HMC’s Faculty Executive Committee (FEC), the FEC subcommittee on diversity, inclusion and equity, and the Core Review Planning Team, which helped lead an external review of the College’s Core Curriculum.

The William R. Kenan, Jr. Visiting Professorship for Distinguished Teaching was established as part of the Princeton’s 250th anniversary celebration in 1996. Lape’s colleague, Chris Clark, professor of engineering and associate department chair, held the William R. Kenan, Jr. Visiting Professorship for Distinguished Teaching before joining Harvey Mudd College in 2012.