Mark Yim Awarded a Lindback Award, Penn's Highest Teaching Award

April 21, 2009

PHILADELPHIA –- Mark Yim, Associate Professor and Gabel Family Term Junior Professor of Mechanical Engineering, has been awarded a yimChristian R. and Mary F. Lindback Award for Distinguished Teaching, Penn's highest teaching honor.

Mark began teaching at Penn in 2004, after more than a decade as a leading robotics researcher and engineer. Maybe because he came to teaching later than most, speculates a colleague, he developed a deeper appreciation for what outstanding teaching really is. Mark has been instrumental in reorienting the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mechanics around a lab-based Practice Integrated Curriculum designed, in his words, not only to teach the students concepts and skills, but develop an engineering way of thinking.

As part of this effort, he pioneered a new master's program in Integrated Product Design, in which students work in partnership with Wharton and PennDesign, while also serving as Faculty Director (and previously Associate Director) of Weiss Tech House. Rather than using traditional methods of teaching and evaluating students, one undergraduate writes, he experiments with methods that engage students creatively. As one colleague sums up the views of students and colleagues, he seamlessly integrates his own research, his classroom instruction, his advising, and his involvement in the Weiss Tech House and the IPD Program to truly, deeply teach his students.

Mark's research interests began with modular robots that are made up of identical active components that can be arranged to form many different configurations, ranging from a snake robot to a humanoid to a 17 legged centipede. These systems can also self-reconfigure, changing the robot's shape to suit the task. In addition to self-reconfiguring and self-assembling robots, Mark has also started work on flying robots, and task specification, working to figure out how to specify a task so that a robot configuration can optimally satisfy that task. For more information on Yim and his research, please visit http://www.grasp.upenn.edu/people/yim.html.

The Lindback Awards for Distinguished Teaching at the University of Pennsylvania were established in 1961 with the help of the Christian R. and Mary F. Lindback Foundation. Christian Lindback was president and principal of Abbotts Dairies, Inc. and a trustee of Bucknell University. The Foundation established Lindback Awards for Distinguished Teaching at colleges and universities throughout the Abbotts Dairies, Inc.'s service area in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware and Virginia. For more information on this year's awardees, please visit http://www.upenn.edu/almanac/volumes/v55/n30/awards.html.