Susan McCahan Biography

PTA winner Susan McCahan

Prof. McCahan received her B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Cornell University. After working as a design engineer for RCA/GE she returned to Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute to pursue a doctorial degree. She has been a professor in the Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering at the University of Toronto since 1992. She was the recipient of a 3M National Fellowship Teaching Award in 2007 and was also part of the team in the Faculty of Applied Science and Engineering that received the 2007 Alan Blizzard Award for collaboration in teaching. She received the Faculty Teaching Award in 2000 and was named a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 2006 for distinguished contributions and innovations to the education of the next generation of engineers and scientists. Her engineering research deals with the thermodynamics of hydrocarbons particularly in flashing spray and rapidly evaporating systems. Her research on energy systems has included work for Imperial Oil, and the Atomic Energy Control Board of Canada amongst others. Her recent research has shifted toward the scholarship of teaching and learning.

Prof. McCahan has taught a variety of courses at the University of Toronto. Recently she has been the coordinator for a large first year design and communications course, “Engineering Strategies and Practice”, which includes a substantial service learning component. Prof. McCahan coordinated the pilot of this course in 2003/04 and led the course through to full implementation in 2005/06. This course has an enrolment of nearly 1000 students and a course staff of approximately 50. Prof. McCahan supervised the acquisition of over 100 design projects from community organizations and companies and managed the logistics as the student teams worked with the clients to develop a design. In addition, she has taught courses on thermodynamics, combustion, and radiative heat transfer. In 2004 she started a graduate level course on Engineering Teaching and Learning. She was also one of the coordinators for Teaching in Higher Education (THE500) at Woodsworth College for 7 years. Prof. McCahan has also developed and delivered numerous workshops and seminars for students and staff on topics related to teaching and learning.

Prof. McCahan has held two administrative positions; she is currently the Chair of First Year for the Faculty of Applied Science and Engineering, and in the past has served as Associate Chair of Undergraduate Studies for her department. As Associate Chair from 2001 to 2004, she led the re-design of the undergraduate curriculum in the Mechanical and Industrial Engineering programs. This new curriculum gives students an increased degree of choice in their course selections and also aims to develop students’ competencies in areas that have been identified as important for future engineering graduates. Prof. McCahan more recently began a term as Chair of First Year in the Faculty. This position includes oversight of the first year curriculum, development of co-curricular activities to support transition to university, and outreach and recruitment. She is currently managing the implementation of a new general engineering first year curriculum, called Track One, which will be introduced in Fall 2007.