Brunet receives Rose Award for Teaching Excellence



Marie-Christine Brunet
Marie-Christine Brunet

ECE Lecturer and Chief Adviser Marie-Christine Brunet has been awarded the 2012 College of Engineering Rose Award for Teaching Excellence, an award intended to reward undergraduate teaching across the College of Engineering.

“I was excited when I found out I won it,” said Brunet. “I love what I do. Being recognized for it is like a stamp acknowledging that what I’m doing is not so wrong and my hard work is paying off.”

Brunet has been at the University of Illinois since 1994, and she became the undergraduate academic adviser in 1998. She received her PhD in Computer Science from the University of Paris IX in 1989, where she focused on numerical algorithms.

“I was very logical. I loved math and problem solving. I was really fascinated with what you can do with programming,” Brunet said.

Her love of problem solving translated perfectly when she became the undergraduate academic adviser.  She helps 30 to 60 students per day during the regular school year.  She enjoys the questions they bring to her, which has helped her become more resourceful.

“Whatever I do, I always put the student first,” she said. “The student is the central piece, and I don’t do things because it’s fun to do. I do things because it will benefit the student, and also it’s very fun to do.”

In ECE, Brunet has taught ECE 290: Computer Engineering I and ECE 462: Logic Design. Most of her teaching these days is taken up with ECE 110: Introduction to Electrical and Computer Engineering. The course content has been ever changing since Brunet first taught the course in 1994, along with now Professor Emeritus Tim Trick. Brunet welcomes the challenge of getting new students acclimated to their first college engineering course.

“The students are here to discover, and you have to try to excite them. I put in a lot of energy when I teach,” she said.

Brunet hopes that the multiple components of lab sections and lectures in ECE 110 will help students prepare for what’s to come in future engineering courses.  She stresses that this field is a serious one, and students will have to absorb as much as they can before they can “have fun” with the particular area they want to specialize in.

Brunet has been interested in teaching for a long time. She remembers teaching her friends back in France when she was just 12 years old.

“I love to think about the way people think,” she said. “I’ve always been curious about the way people learn and I love explaining how things work. Whenever you can solve a problem, it is very satisfying.”

In addition to this teaching award from the College of Engineering, Brunet received the Ronald W. Pratt Faculty Outstanding Teaching Award from the ECE Department in 2007 and the Campus Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching in 2008. She has also regularly appeared on the List of Teachers Ranked as Excellent by Their Students.