SPOTLIGHT STORIES >
Amir Elzawawy, PhD
Egypt is a land with a history of innovation and stood as one of the world's most advanced civilizations for thousands of years. That spirit of innovation and inspiring the next generation of great thinkers is a central aspect of Dr. Amir Elzawawy's approach in Vaughn's classrooms. Born in Egypt and emigrating to the United States more than a decade ago, Elzawawy is known for his love of teaching and ability to motivate students beyond what is required in class. Elzawawy's expertise is in experimental fluid dynamics. He came to Vaughn College in the spring of 2012 and teaches engineering courses specifically related to thermal and fluid sciences. His courses include thermodynamics, fluid mechanics, aerodynamics and engineering mechanics.
Challenging his students and coaching them to think about topics from an engineering perspective is a key strategy in his classroom. "My favorite course," he says, "is the capstone degree project, which represents a great opportunity for me to help students show their creativity and interdisciplinary skills to solve real-life engineering problems. I truly enjoy helping students at this level."
Just this year, Elzawawy's students won four out of nine awards in student competitions at the 2013 Latin American and Caribbean Consortium of Engineering Institutions (LACEEI), worldwide engineering conference.
Elzawawy grew up in the town of Tanta, Egypt and showed an interest in math and physics from a young age. He did well in these subjects in elementary school and never doubted that his studies would be focused in these areas.
He came to the United States in 2000 after finishing his bachelor's of science degree at Alexandria University in Alexandria, Egypt. Elzawawy settled in New York and began a master's of science degree at City College, where he met his current colleague, Professor Yougashwar Budhoo, a 2005 Vaughn graduate. Elzawawy taught at City College and New York City College of Technology while continuing his own studies and obtaining his PhD from The Graduate Center of New York/CUNY.
According to Elzawawy, the energy at Vaughn is different. "Students are here for a purpose and are very motivated to obtain degrees and build professional careers," he added. In the classroom, Elzawawy's students are always curious to know about the why and how of things, and are not shy to challenge their instructor and have a prolonged discussion about the ideas that don't seem intuitive to them. "I actually like to open up some of these controversial ideas in the classroom to see how each student can handle the subject."
What Elzawawy likes best about teaching at Vaughn is the small college experience and close community it offers—difficult to obtain in a very large metropolitan area like New York. "The atmosphere here makes it easy for students and professors to go beyond the classroom, exchange life experiences and develop long-term professional relationships. I am interested in students' careers long after they graduate."
A favorite quote from Einstein, "It is a miracle that curiosity survives formal education," continues to inspire him when planning strategies for instructing students. "It's incredibly important in teaching to avoid creating strict educational strategies for students to follow," said Elzawawy. "Creativity needs to be fostered and encouraged to ensure there is room for students to show their creative mind, to question and always push for a solution. This is what keeps teaching interesting."
When not teaching, Elzawawy, who lives in Astoria near the College, enjoys hobbies that include exploring new technologies and new gadgets, which can often be applied to the classroom, and playing soccer and tennis with friends.
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