STCC Professor Named 2014 Massachusetts Professor of the Year by Carnegie Foundation
WASHINGTON — The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) have named Springfield Technical Community College (STCC) Professor Beth McGinnis-Cavanaugh their 2014 Massachusetts Professor of the Year. McGinnis-Cavanaugh was selected from 400 nominated professors in the United States. On Thursday, McGinnis-Cavanaugh along with the 30 other state winners were honored at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. “I was surprised, humbled, and honored to be recognized for this award,” said McGinnis-Cavanaugh. “As academics, this is the one of the highest honors we can receive. There are many fabulous faculty here at STCC, so I’m grateful to have been selected.” McGinnis-Cavanaugh, who teaches physics and engineering mechanics at STCC, is one of the principal creators of the “Through My Window” project — a multimedia engineering education website that provides children and young teens, especially girls, with innovative learning experiences in engineering. The program, which began in 2012, is the result of a partnership between STCC and Smith College and is funded by a $3 million grant from the National Science Foundation. She has been on sabbatical this academic year to focus solely on the grant project. A printed young adult novel, “Talk to Me,” will be published next month by the grant collaborative. “The goal of the Through My Window program is to expose young girls to engineering so they see engineering like they do traditionally female fields,” said McGinnis-Cavanaugh. “We hope that they see that engineering is a way to help people, impact society, and solve the really important challenges the world faces.” McGinnis-Cavanaugh is an STCC alumna who began her academic career in the 1990s — raising her children while attending school part-time. After receiving her associate degree in engineering transfer, she went on to continue her education and received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in civil engineering from the UMass Amherst. “This award is really a validation of very hard work,” said McGinnis-Cavanaugh. “I had somewhat humble beginnings here at STCC as a non-traditional student and as a woman in engineering. I challenged myself academically and continue to do so professionally. In addition to teaching, I’m invested in my research grants and am constantly improving my knowledge of teaching and learning.” CASE and the Carnegie Foundation have been partners in offering the U.S. Professors of the Year awards program since 1981. Additional support for the program is received from Phi Beta Kappa, which sponsors an evening congressional reception, the Professional and Organizational Development (POD) Network in Higher Education and other higher education associations.