Murphy Award winner: Michael Melloch

May 2, 2012

Michael Melloch, professor of electrical and computer engineering and 2012 Murphy Award winner. (Purdue University photo/Mark Simons)

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Six exceptional teachers were honored with 2012 Outstanding Undergraduate Teaching Awards in Memory of Charles B. Murphy at the Faculty Awards Convocation on April 26. This week, Purdue Today will feature a profile on each of the recipients. Today, we focus on Michael Melloch, professor of electrical and computer engineering.

Melloch has a simple goal each semester: become a better teacher, no matter his pedagogical accomplishments.

To that end, Melloch has incorporated into his teaching style his desires to get to know students personally and to create a small-college environment, even in large lectures.

Each week, Melloch takes groups of about five students to lunch, so he can build strong relationships with them. During exams, Melloch incorporates a seating chart and spends the test-taking time associating names with faces. He encourages them to take advantage of the 10 office hours he holds each week.

"By the middle of the semester, I am able to call on students by name when they raise their hands, even though my class size is typically close to 60 students," Melloch says. "This promotes a more interactive classroom and makes the students comfortable coming to see me for help."

Melloch also helps students turn their academic weaknesses into strengths -- while at the same time rewarding good attendance. After each exam, if students have attended at least 80 percent of his lectures, Melloch allows them to improve their score on one problem by teaching him the concept behind the problem they've had the most difficulty understanding.

Melloch also uses short videos to help illustrate the complex concepts he teaches. For his Electromagnetic Fields class, Melloch uses about 35 short videos to demonstrate topics such as electrostatic and electromagnetic induction, the construction of simple motors and the generations of magnetic fields from current-carrying wires.

Student evaluators say Melloch is a humble instructor who truly cares about those taking his classes.

"Professor Melloch is a godsend to the electrical and computer engineering department," one student writes. "He is always early and well-prepared for class. He actually teaches us and doesn't try to bash us on the head with near-impossible work. He makes students feel welcome to visit him with questions."