The Michael Ashby Outstanding Materials Educator Award

Presented at the ASEE Annual Conference, this prestigious award recognizes distinguished and exceptional contributions in materials science and engineering education. It is intended to honor an individual who has demonstrated notable leadership in the materials education area.

The annual award consists of a plaque, and meeting registration fee to attend the Summer 2019 ASEE annual meeting, where the recipient will accept the award and present an invited paper.

It is named in recognition of the achievements of renowned materials educator Professor Mike Ashby (pictured), the author of many leading textbooks in the field and an innovator in developing new approaches and resources to support materials teaching, such as the CES EduPack software.

Granta Design is proud to co-sponsor this award that represents our commitment to ensuring that excellence in materials education as well as research is valued and rewarded. We look forward to meeting this year's winner, Stephen Krause, at the ASEE conference and handing over this much deserved accolade.

Mike Ashby
ASEE logo

Winner 2018

This year's recipient of the Michael Ashby Outstanding Materials Educator Award is: Prof. Stephen Krause

Written by Harriet Parnell, Associate Specialist, Material Science and Engineering, Granta Design

For the second year running, the Michael Ashby Outstanding Materials Educator Award was presented at the ASEE Annual Conference, in recognition for exceptional contributions to the field of materials science and engineering education. Awarded by the Materials Division of ASEE, and sponsored by Granta, the award was given to an individual who has shown notable leadership in the materials education area. This year’s recipient was Prof. Stephen Krause from Arizona State University.

Nominated by Dr. Cynthia Waters, she explains: “Steve has been described as the “Pied Piper” of Materials Active learning. He continually and with excitement shares his “Music” and many follow. This music includes methods and tools to increase learning in a Material Science classroom. One cannot find a more genuine and sharing mentor and Engineering Education leader."

Pioneering Materials Engineering Education

A worthy winner of this year’s award, Stephen has long been instrumental in many engineering education initiatives, not least the Materials Concept Inventory. Co-developed with Prof. Richard Griffin, of Texas A&M University, the strategy is an interesting methodology which can be used to measure students’ conceptual changes. By exploring common misconceptions, which he has termed the ‘Muddiest Points', Stephen has been able to quickly identify key topics, which his classes find most challenging.

Further explained in his 2013 ASEE paper, titled ‘Muddiest Point Formative Feedback in Core Materials Classes with YouTube, Blackboard, Class Warm-ups and Word Clouds’, Stephen reviews the effectiveness of four different feedback modes, based on the Muddiest Points responses. The first method looked at restructuring notes and placing them on Blackboard; the second method explored Class Warm-ups; the third method resulted in the creation of YouTube tutorials ( e.g. Phase Diagrams); and the fourth supplemental approach looked at creating Word Clouds, such as the one presented below based on the topic of atomic bonding. The bigger the word, the more students highlighted it as one of their Muddiest Points.

Word Cloud on the topic of atomic bonding

Overall, he has found that by closely monitoring the students’ understanding of certain concepts, their attitude, achievement and retention positively improves.

Read more about how this two-way formative feedback has been implemented in the Just-in-Time-Teaching with Interactive Frequent Formative Feedback (JTF) project, which ran at Arizona State University, North Carolina A&T, Oregon Institute of Technology, and Oregon State University.

What do his students say?

Whilst writing this report I happened upon reviews written by students who had taken his Structure & Properties- Materials (MSE250) class. Ominously named ‘rate my professor’, it unsurprisingly contained many glowing reports. Writing that ‘this professor actually cares about student learning’ and that ‘not many instructors can make you learn so much but still make the class fun and easy’, it is clear that Stephen’s contributions to student learning, really have resonated with his classes. Specifically, in recognition of his end-of-class reflections, one respondee explains that ‘he goes over what was not clear [in] the previous lecture. VERY HELPFUL’.

Hear more from Prof. Stephen Krause

On November 8, Granta Design will be running a live webinar with Stephen, which you can join for free. Talking more about his experiences in engineering education, this is a great opportunity to hear from our award winner and ask him questions. Click on the following link to register for the webinar 'Engagement and Feedback: Creating Value in the Materials Science Classroom'.

Congratulations also to Dr. Alison Polasik

This year at ASEE, Dr. Alison Polasik also received the New Materials Educator Award, for her exceptional achievements as an early-career professional. I had the pleasure of sitting in on Alison’s Technical Session in Salt Lake City and enjoyed hearing about how she has tackled active learning in small- and large-sized classes.

Nominations for the Michael Ashby Outstanding Materials Educator Award will be accepted through October 15, 2018. Nomination should be submitted by email to Awards Committee Chair, Cindy Waters at The nomination should include:

  • Nominee information: Full name, organization, mailing address, telephone number
  • Proposed citation: The proposed citation should be less than 75 words, in which the nominator summarizes the achievements upon which the nomination is based, avoiding flowery descriptors
  • Nominator’s letter (two-page maximum): The letter of nomination should delineate the nominee’s contributions to the fields of materials science and encouraging education
  • Additional support letter(s): No more than two accompanying letters of support that delineate the nominee’s contributions to materials education
  • Curriculum vitae of the nominee.

Further information

For more information about the materials division of ASEE, visit