Ashok Gopalarathnam, professor in NC State’s Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering (MAE), received the Alumni Distinguished Undergraduate Professor Award for the 2022-23 academic year. He was recognized during the College of Engineering’s spring faculty meeting, held in April 2023.
The award, sponsored by the NC State Alumni Association, is one of the most prestigious awards given on campus to recognize excellence in undergraduate education. Up to six recipients receive this recognition each year and retain the title for the duration of their career as an NC State faculty member. Each recipient also receives a cash award.
As an instructor for undergraduate and graduate courses in aerospace engineering and a member of the aerospace engineering curriculum committee, Gopalarathnam is guided by several goals: to tap into students’ enthusiasm for engineering and science; to impart important engineering skills; to use technology to promote student involvement; and to develop approaches for systematic improvement to the aerospace engineering and mechanical engineering curricula.
“A majority of undergraduate students in engineering choose their programs because of their enthusiasm for the subject,” said Gopalarathnam. “They are driven by a vision of working on their favorite gadgets, devices or vehicles.”
Gopalarathnam joined the NC State faculty in 1999 as an assistant professor. Since then, he’s educated countless students, including Hanna McDaniel, who got to know Goplarathnam through his Aerospace Vehicle Performance class as a sophomore.
“He inspires students to look past their desks and pencils at the world beyond, to connect their homework, projects and student duties to the aerospace industry and the problems that are still being dealt with today,” she said. “Personally, he has changed the way I think about engineering problems and aerospace as a whole, which is something I will carry with me long after I graduate.”
“Dr. G gave me my first opportunity in the research field,” added Nitin Chitrala, an undergraduate researcher. “He understood that I was only just starting to understand higher level aerodynamics concepts and that I needed to be eased in. My first research project with him introduced me to the field of unsteady aerodynamics. He introduced me to one of his Ph.D. students who has taken me under his wing.”
Recent advances in engineering technology, including advances in cloud computing, mobile devices and 3D printing, have Gopalarathnam all the more excited to continue his career in research and education, much to the delight of his colleagues.
“Dr. G has been one of the best teachers in our aerospace program since 1999,” said Srinath Ekkad, head of MAE. “He is a leader in our aerospace engineering curriculum, teaching lower level and upper-level classes with aplomb. His teaching evaluations are consistently above the departmental average for all courses.”
This post was originally published in College of Engineering News.