Joseph McCaig is the Spring 2019 Praxair Exceptional Teaching Assistant

Joseph McCaig receives Praxair TA Award
Joseph receiving the Praxair Award plaque from Dr. Richard Spontak

Graduate student Joseph McCaig is the recipient of the Spring 2019 Praxair Exceptional Teaching Assistant Award.

The Award recognizes the instructional effectiveness and class management of Ph.D. candidates who’ve served as exemplary teaching assistants (TA’s) in our Department. Recipients of the Praxair Award “go above and beyond the call of duty by providing their students with tireless and selfless attention to high-quality instruction and professionalism.”

The selection process for the Award begins with student voting at the end of each semester. Students in every class with one or more TA’s have the opportunity to vote for their TA and to respond to a series of questions regarding the TA’s performance. Results of the vote are tabulated and, after class size is factored in using a statistical model, six finalists are chosen. A selection committee composed of three faculty members reviews the student responses, as well as letters provided by the course instructors, to select the winner.

The Award comes in the form of a certificate and a monetary prize funded by a gift from Praxair, Inc. as part of its financial commitment to support the department and our graduate program. Each awardee is designated as a Praxair Teaching Fellow for the duration of his/her graduate studies.

Originally from Glasgow, Scotland, Joseph graduated in 2018 with an MEng in Chemical Engineering from The University of Edinburgh. He also worked at the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) in Switzerland during that time. His Ph.D. research topic in Professor Henry Lamb’s group is heterogenous catalytic upgrading of stranded natural gas resources to gasoline/high value olefins.

Joseph’s TA assignment in the spring was CHE 312 with Professor Phil Westmoreland. About the experience, he’s written, “That was my first proper experience of teaching and I enjoyed it very much!” This semester he’s got CHE 205 and it sounds as though the students will be well-served.

The other Award finalists were:

  • Ravi Appalabhotla (CHE551)
  • Yosra Kotb (CHE315)
  • Amulya Pervaje (CHE775)
  • Vahid Rahmanian (CHE312)
  • Sunyoung Woo (CHE316)

Congratulations to Joseph and all the finalists for your excellent service to CBE students!