Dr. Jitendra Tate of Texas State University –San Marcos (Texas State) was pleasantly surprised on Thursday, April 29th to receive a message from the Society of Plastics Engineers announcing him as the winner of this year’s Dow Chemical Educator of the Year award. Ingram School of Engineering faculty member Dr. Michelle Londa nominated him for the award with the assistance of Dr. Harold Stern, Director of the Ingram School of Engineering and Dr. Andy Batey, Graduate Program Coordinator for the Department of Engineering Technology. “I do not know of any professor more deserving of the Composite Educator of the Year Award than Dr. Jitendra Tate,” Dr. Londa says in her nomination letter, “Dr. Jitendra Tate is an inspiration to students, professors and staff here at Texas State University- San Marcos. I am proud to be one of his colleagues.”
According to Phil Bates, Composites Division Awards Chair, the recipient of this award “is someone in the educational field who has made a significant contribution to the training of students in the composites area.” This year educators were nominated from Texas A&M, Auburn University, Louisiana State University, and the University of Mississippi.
Since joining the Ingram School of Engineering, Dr. Tate developed two composites courses that he teaches- MFGE 4367: Polymer Properties and Processing and MFGE 4399: Polymer Nanocomposites- incorporate a number of non-lecture elements like manufacturing plant tours, guest speakers, lab experiments, viewing related video content and hands-on projects. “His courses represent outstanding, pioneering work in tying together the theoretical aspects of composites engineering with the practical, industrial aspects, and have inspired many students,” Dr. Stern notes in his nomination letter. The kind of experience Dr. Tate provides in his courses enables students to be ready for the workforce and industry, opening more doors in the future. He has also improved upon already existing courses such as ENGR: 2300: Materials Engineering by introducing polymers, composites and ceramics whereas previously the materials studied were predominantly metallic, helping round out students’ understanding of materials engineering. Dr. Batey writes in his nomination letter: “Dr. Jitendra Tate is that rare individual who challenges his students to explore the limits of their capabilities…On top of these accomplishments, which are considerable, Jitendra Tate has found time, in just four short years, to publish seven refereed journal articles, 13 refereed conference proceedings, and he has made presentations at four conferences.”
As part of his commitment to teaching, for the past two years Dr. Tate has been encouraging students to participate on a national level in a bridge building competition organized by the Society for the Advancement of Material and Process Engineering (SAMPE) known as the Super Light Weight Composite Bridge Building Competition. In 2008, two teams from Texas State entered the competition, one of which won a cash prize. Three out of the five entries in 2009 also won cash prizes. There were 6 entries in the competition from Texas State in 2010, three of which won cash prizes. This is particularly impressive considering the relative newness of the manufacturing program at Texas State, and it’s this kind of success that makes Dr. Tate a stand out faculty member.
One aspect of composite research that is particularly important to Dr. Tate is the maintenance of safe practices in handling chemical and nanoparticles, which can be observed in the Composites and Plastics lab (developed by Dr. Tate, www.composites.engineering.txstate.edu ) located in the Roy F. Mitte building on Texas State campus, “This lab is state-of-the-art…We have a blend of plastics manufacturing, composite manufacturing, and some characterization equipment” explains Dr. Tate. He also serves as Academic Administrator for the Certified Composites (CCT) Exam that is offered by the American Composites Manufacturers Association (ACMA). “Students and local industry personnel can take this exam at Texas State campus and I facilitate the exam. MFGE 4367 covers about 60% of the CCT exam. So far 10 students from Texas State have passed this exam and 4 have scheduled in Summer II. Some of them have opted Composites as their career.”