I AM UAA: Jennifer Brock

by Kathleen McCoy  |   

Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering, UAA School of Engineering
Hometown: Madeira, Ohio
Fun Fact: Is a fencer (foilist) and competed in the USA Fencing National Championships last summer

I AM UAA Jennie Block

In her two years on UAA's campus, Jennifer Brock has racked up quite the laundry list of accomplishments.

A transplant from Ohio, Jennifer originally came to Alaska in 2005 to run the Mayor's Midnight Sun Marathon and to tour The Last Frontier. She enjoyed her vacation so much that she made the big move north in 2009 after accepting an assistant professor job at UAA.

Jennifer, an engineering scholar, earned her bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees in mechanical engineering at The Ohio State University in Columbus before becoming a Seawolf.

The former Buckeye now shares her extensive knowledge with aspiring Alaskan engineers. Jennifer carries a heavy teaching load, which amounted to the highest number of student credit hours in the Bachelor of Science in Engineering program in the 2010-11 school year, and has significantly reformed sections of the mechanical engineering curriculum.

She teaches a series of courses in thermodynamics and heat transfer, and she enjoys seeing the students' capabilities progress from one class to the next. "What I love about teaching in Alaska is that many students come to the classroom with prior work and life experiences," says Jennifer. "You don't really see that very often in the Lower 48. Our students are not self-conscious; they're more confident. It leads to better interaction among the class."

For one of her classes, Jennifer arranged to do a lab involving fresh-caught salmon and a Little Chief Smoker. "It was 'heat transfer, Alaska-style.' We ate the evidence."

A strong advocate for student success, Jennifer established the 1st Annual School of Engineering Graduate School Information Day to aid undergraduate students in exploring their options for graduate and professional programs. She hopes to make this an annual event each spring semester.

In addition to teaching courses, Jennifer is a mentor to two undergraduate research assistants-both are in the process of applying for national fellowships. She has also breathed new life into UAA's student chapter of the Society of Women Engineers, and the resurrected club earned recognition as the 2010-11 New Student Club of the Year by the UAA Office of Student Clubs and Greek Life.

"I'm interested in providing opportunities for UAA engineering students to make them competitive among students from the Lower 48," Jennifer says. "I have a feeling we're going to start producing national fellows here at UAA. There's no reason we can't."

Jennifer and her colleagues Drs. Anthony Paris and John Lund are currently working on research relating to the "Evaluation of an Instrumented Mouthguard to Measure the Accelerations of the Head Due to Soccer Ball Heading." The group traveled to Trinidad last month to present their research at the 2012 Pan American Conference of Applied Mechanics.

For her growing list of achievements, Jennifer was recognized with a Chancellor's Award for Excellence, Excellence in Teaching, in fall 2011. "I have a professional stake in UAA and I care very deeply about the engineering program," says Jennifer. "I've never had the opportunity to work with such a talented and professional group." She plans to put down roots at UAA, so that laundry list of accomplishments she's so tirelessly worked to build will just keep on growing.

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