“It’s the people I’ll miss most, the friends, colleagues, teachers, students. Rice is a friendly place with lots of great people.”
Since first coming to Rice University as an undergraduate more than 30 years ago, Ann Saterbak has taught, studied under, worked with, advised and been advised by several generations of people. When she goes to work for Duke University, beginning May 15, she’ll take some of their lessons with her.
“I really like to teach. It’s who I am, and I’ve always been able to do it at Rice. Any job I would look seriously at would have to include teaching, and that’s a lot of what I’ll be doing at Duke,” she said. At Rice, Saterbak is full teaching professor in bioengineering and associate dean for undergraduate education for the George R. Brown School of Engineering.
Her new responsibilities at Duke, as professor in the practice of biomedical education and director of the Engineering First-Year Experience, will resemble the roles she has played at Rice. Saterbak helped create a new course — ENGI 120, “Introduction to Engineering Design” — in which freshmen work in teams to solve real-world problems.
“The OEDK (Oshman Engineering Design Kitchen) is well-known and well respected in engineering schools across the country. The key ingredient, more important than any machine or workspace, is the dedicated staff that has a great passion for helping students solve real-world engineering problems. Ann stands out as a most amazing person, able to inspire students to do incredible things,” said Edwin L. “Ned” Thomas, the William and Stephanie Sick Dean of the George R. Brown School of Engineering.
Since spring 2011, ENGI 120 teams based in the OEDK have taken on more than 100 projects. Clients have included the Houston Zoo, Shell Oil and Texas Children’s Hospital.
“I really enjoy the creative process of building new courses and educational programs,” said Saterbak, who since March 1 has worked half-time at Rice and half at Duke.
Saterbak earned a B.A. in chemical engineering and biochemistry from Rice in 1990 and a Ph.D. in chemical engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1995. For four years she worked as an associate research engineer with the Shell Development Co. in Houston, and returned to Rice as a lecturer and director of laboratory instruction in 1999.
Since then her professional progress at Rice has been steady: professor in the practice of bioengineering practice (2008-16), associate chair for undergraduate affairs in the Department of Bioengineering (2008-2014) and full teaching professor (2016-present). Also steady is the recognition Saterbak has received.
She won the Robert G. Quinn Award (2007) and Theo Pilkington Outstanding Educator Award (2013) from the American Society for Engineering Education; Rice’s top teaching award, the George R. Brown Prize for Excellence in Teaching (2011); the Department of Bioengineering Teaching Award (2012); the George R. Brown Award for Superior Teaching (2013, 2017); and the Nicolas Salgo Distinguished Teacher Award (2015).
“In the engineering school, Ann has led the efforts to create a world-class engineering design opportunity for our freshmen students, pushing them to excel early in their academic careers. As hard as she pushes the students to excel, she is willing to work harder to provide the students with excellent mentoring, advising and learning opportunities,” said Maria Oden, professor in the practice of engineering education and director of the OEDK.