Makela receives ECE teaching award

ECE News

Laurel Bollinger, ECE ILLINOIS

Story Highlights

  • Prof. Jonathan Makela won the 2009 Ronald W. Pratt Teaching Award.
  • Makela has been teaching at Illinois for more than four years.
  • He has taught ECE 329, 437, 445, 450, and developed a course for ECE 498: Special Topics.

Jonathan J. Makela
Jonathan J. Makela

ECE Assistant Professor Jonathan J Makela is the 2009 recipient of the ECE’s Ronald W. Pratt Teaching Award. Makela was surprised to win the award, but was happy to receive recognition for his hard work. “It feels great to be recognized by the students and faculty for the effort that I put into teaching,” he said.

Makela has been teaching at Illinois for more than four years and has taught ECE 329: Introduction to Electromagnetic Fields, ECE 437: Sensors and Instrumentation, ECE 445: Senior Design, and ECE 450: Lines, Fields, and Waves. In addition, he developed a course for ECE 498: Special Topics on global navigation satellite systems (such as GPS).

Makela likes bringing in real-world problems and examples to give his students a larger variety of experiences in the classroom. “Fortunately, with my research being in wave propagation and remote sensing, teaching an electromagnetics course makes it easy enough to bring in problems from my research and try to spice up the lecture,” said Makela. “I don’t want to just go through what is in the textbook. Rather, I’ll present the material through an example and maybe take a different spin on it.” For Makela, it is all about finding what works for the students so that they can get as much as possible out of a class.

Makela is highly impressed with the caliber of both the faculty and the students in ECE. “Our students are extremely smart and motivated” he said. “It is phenomenal to work with them in the lab courses and see what they can pick up and run with. It’s just a pleasure to work with the students and the other faculty here.”

His students also appreciate Makela’s teaching style and the effort he puts into being a good professor.  “Professor Makela is by far the most energetic and enthusiastic professor that I have ever had the pleasure of knowing,” said one former student. “He has an obvious passion for his academic work, and his excitement clearly spills over into his lectures and laboratory sessions.”

This enthusiasm has inspired another student to pursue a teaching career as well. “Professor Makela’s dedication to teaching was also a big influence on my decision to pursue a Ph.D. with the end goal of teaching at the university level,” he said. “It was not until I saw Professor Makela’s enjoyment of teaching that I decided I should pursue this goal.”

Makela said that his goal is to continually stimulate the minds of his students, which requires him to always be expanding his own knowledge. “The courses we’re teaching now at the undergrad level would have been grad level courses a decade ago,” he said. “So I can’t let my own knowledge become stagnant. I’m always being pushed to stay on the cutting edge so that I can continue to challenge my students.”

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