Groll's Talents Recognized

Students consistently name him a favorite

Purdue adds names to its Book of Great Teachers only once every five years. In August 2008, Eckhard Groll was among those singled out for the honor. Groll, who joined the mechanical engineering faculty in 1994 and became a full professor in 2005, teaches thermodynamics and energy use. He was first recognized for his outstanding teaching in 2002, when the School of Mechanical Engineering presented him the Solberg Outstanding Teaching Award.

Groll says he derives joy and great satisfaction from "seeing a student smile" during class.

Students with their project at the table

"Engineering is such a challenging topic to teach. To see students smile indicates that they truly enjoy learning the material," Groll says. "Also, it's wonderful to see if a student understands the material and can make a connection to real-life engineering challenges."

In class surveys, students often use the word "favorite" to describe both Groll and the classes he teaches. As for what shaped his teaching style and philosophy, Groll credits his own positive and negative experiences as a student.

"I have had wonderful research advisors and career mentors," he says. "In particular, I would mention Ray Cohen (Herrick Professor Emeritus of Mechanical Engineering). However, I was not always satisfied with my course instructors during my studies.

I often thought that there was a better way to present the material and to some extent, I am still trying to find that way."

In addition to the recognition Groll received for teaching, his talents have been put to administrative use. Appointed director of the Office of Professional Practice in 2008, Groll has taken on added responsibilities that require him to help students integrate theory into practice, and to ambitiously investigate career choices and opportunities.

Groll says he hopes that his students will look back on their experience in his classes and remember him as "the instructor who made learning thermodynamics enjoyable, who raised their awareness of environmental and energy-related issues, who was fair, approachable, and available."

-Amy Raley