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Arizona Engineering associate professor earns national recognition

TUCSON, Ariz. -- Associate Professor Paul Blowers of the University of Arizona Department of Chemical and Environmental Engineering is the 2011 Arizona Professor of the Year, recognized for commitment to instruction excellence by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and the Council for Advancement and Support of Education. The independent policy and research center announced the award on Nov. 17 in Washington, D.C.

Blowers, whose reputation as an unorthodox but highly effective teacher has earned him regional and university praise, was selected from nearly 300 top professorial nominees from throughout the country. This year there are only 27 state winners, in addition to the four national winners, according to the foundation.

"I am very honored to have been selected as the Arizona recipient because I know so many outstanding colleagues all across the campus, let alone others at other state institutions, who are deserving of equal recognition," Blowers said.

The award recognizes strong contributions made by faculty to strengthen undergraduate education and train future professionals, one of the core goals of a land grant institution like the University of Arizona.

Blowers' reputation as an innovative engineering instructor has been recently recognized by the UA campus. In 2010, he received the Five-Star Faculty Award, selected by university students. He also received one of two Leicester and Kathryn Sherrill Creative Teaching Awards from the UA Foundation, in addition to being selected as an Honors Professor. For his excellence in teaching and research combined with service, he was named the 2010 da Vinci fellow by the UA College of Engineering's giving society, the da Vinci Circle.

When engineering dean Jeff Goldberg needs advice on teaching issues, Blowers is top of his list. "I can say without any reservation that he is the most creative instructor that I have seen in the college of engineering in 25 years," Goldberg said. "Paul is fearless in trying new pedagogical approaches, new technologies, and just about anything else that aids engineering student learning."

Blowers is an alumnus of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where he earned a master's degree in chemical engineering in 1997 and a doctorate in the same in 1999, the year he joined UA. His bachelor's degree in chemical engineering is from Michigan State University. His current research includes using chemical engineering principles to predict the environmental impact and global warming potential of chemicals.

This is the first time a University of Arizona engineering professor has won a Carnegie state professor of the year award in the 30-year history of the program. Only four other UA professors have won the state award: astronomy professor Chris Impey in 2002, economics professor Donald Wells in 2000, planetary science professor Harold Larson in 1999, and English professor J. Douglas Canfield in 1993.

"My goal in teaching any material at any level is to foster independent and critical thought that allows students to tackle challenges in future coursework or at their workplaces after they graduate," Blowers said.

Contact: Steve Delgado
University of Arizona College of Engineering

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