Dupaix presented Alumni Award for Distinguished Teaching

Posted: May 18, 2021

Rebecca Dupaix, professor and associate chair for undergraduate programs in the department of mechanical and aerospace engineering, was presented with The Ohio State University’s 2020 Alumni Award for Distinguished Teaching. Professor Dupaix has been teaching at Ohio State since the fall of 2003. She teaches courses on statics, mechanics of materials, applied finite element analysis, and continuum mechanics. Her research focuses on the mechanical behavior of polymers and soft biological tissues.

To Dupaix, this award holds special meaning as it comes in recognition of her passion: teaching and mentoring students.

“I put a lot of effort into creating a fun and engaging classroom environment and providing educational experiences that will stay with students long after the semester is over. Being recognized for something that I am passionate about and that I have worked so hard to excel at is especially meaningful,” Dupaix said. 

Dupaix also credits her students for the award. The unique opportunity to work with university students is something that has helped solidify and grow her passion for teaching.

“I feel it is a privilege to be able to work with college-aged students. They have so much potential, and my dream has always been to have a positive impact at such a transformational stage in their lives. These ‘kids’ have amazing futures ahead of them—I love being a part of that journey with them,” Dupaix said.

This teaching award comes during an unprecedented year for educators. The pandemic-era challenges, and transition to online and hybrid courses has posed difficulties for students and instructors alike. However, overcoming challenges is something Dupaix said has always been a part of her journey.

“This year has been challenging for every educator, and maybe in a way it is fitting to be honored at the end of an especially challenging year, as so much of my career has been about overcoming obstacles and barriers—about finding ways to thrive despite major life detours—and teaching my students to do the same,” said Dupaix. “It hasn’t been easy being one of the first women faculty in the department and most of my career has been spent pushing through whatever challenges have arisen.”

That experience in resiliency, and the attitude that no problem is too big to solve is something that Dupaix said she tries to instill in her students.

“When I teach my students, I try to bring in these life lessons to show them that they can do hard things—they can do seemingly impossible things—they can even solve a 3D rigid body equilibrium problem on the final exam,” Dupaix said. “Because of the pandemic, my focus this year was primarily on teaching my colleagues how to teach online–while learning to do so myself. And that same message of ‘you can do hard things’, ‘you can overcome this challenge’ was just as relevant.”

Recipients of the Alumni Award for Distinguished Teaching are nominated by present and former students and colleagues and are chosen by a committee of alumni, students, and faculty. They receive a cash award of $5000, made possible by contributions from the Alumni Association, friends of Ohio State, and the Office of Academic Affairs. The recipients will be inducted into the university's Academy of Teaching, which provides leadership for the improvement of teaching at Ohio State.