Schmit encourages, engages engineering students

Ashley Wulf

Ashley Wulf

Christopher Schmit, a civil engineering professor at SDSU for 11 years, was recognized for his commitment to students on Feb. 24 at the faculty recognition ceremony in The Union. Schmit received the Edward Patrick Hogan Award for Excellence in Teaching.

“Schmit is noted for helping bring technical engineering material to life for students in civil and environmental engineering,” a University Relations press release said. “He has developed online graduate courses for place-bound students across the state and region. Such work is emulated by civil engineering departments across the nation.”

“Dr. Schmit goes out of his way to make sure his students have the best learning environment possible, and he is always available to answer questions even if the questions don’t apply to the classroom,” said Matthew Pajl, a civil engineering graduate student. “I think I speak for all of Dr. Schmit’s students – past and present – when I say that we are blessed to have such a good professor and friend.”

Schmit, who teaches several classes, most of them either graduate or a combination of undergraduate and graduate students, said the online program was originally conceived out of necessity.

“We had students that were SDSU graduates that were going across the country, and because of the nature of their work, they weren’t able to come to campus,” he said. “[The program] started probably three years ago. It started by recording our lectures. We don’t have a lot of online graduate students. It can range from one to six in any given class. This gives them a pathway to their degree, and we continue to offer classes online.”

But Schmit said there are a few unique problems with the system.

“The classes are not online only,” he said. “It does present unique challenges. Building rapport with online students compared to the students I see three days a week is difficult.”

Bruce Berdanier, head of the civil engineering department and one of the people who nominated Schmit, said the nomination was to recognize years of dedication by Schmit.

“When you look at how students review him, not just recently but over the last nine or ten years, he’s obviously one of the top teachers in the department,” Berdanier said.

Delvin DeBoer, a civil engineering professor who was another member of the nominating team, said Schmit has helped students, which is why he deserved the nomination and the award.

“Dr. Schmit exhibits a remarkable passion for teaching and makes sincere attempts to engage each student with the course material,” DeBoer said.