Jeffrey Harris, assistant professor of mechanical engineering and director of common engineering and BSc Science at the Lassonde School of Engineering was elected as a Fellow of the Canadian Engineering Education Association (CEEA) and received the 2022 Ron Britton Engineering Education Vanguard Award.
The CEEA designation of Fellow honours individuals who have demonstrated noteworthy service to engineering education, engineering leadership or engineering design education through their work with CEEA-ACEG.
In addition to this honour, Harris was awarded the 2022 Britton Engineering Education Vanguard Award. This accolade is awarded annually to a person who, early in their career, has committed to the development of engineering education in Canada through practice and/or research. This person must also be contributing to the field in a way that demonstrates their commitment to innovation, change and improvement in engineering education and making significant differences in engineering education practices through innovation in the engineering classroom and/or through research.
Harris approaches his teaching with a core priority toward universal design for learning. He works to ensure all learners have the tools, resources and spaces they need to flourish and thrive while prioritizing equity, diversity and inclusivity. Simultaneously, he creates and cultivates spaces for students, and faculty to create knowledge, share experiences, translate knowledge into culture change initiatives and mobilize knowledge to innovate teaching pedagogies and learning environments.
“To me, educational leadership is about developing relationships and empowering others, with the goal of shifting engineering education and creating systems impacts,” says Harris. “As an educator, I am motivated by inspiring future engineers to become changemakers who will address our current and future grand challenges. I aim to help students achieve their potential and boost their capacity to make a positive impact in their communities and the world.”
He bakes into his teaching practices ways of ensuring student and faculty success and has been instrumental in experimenting with different ideas and then leading their transition into steady-state operations. Harris also leads as a champion for the improvement of engineering education as a field and leverages the art of human-centred design and experience design to inform transformation in this ecosystem.
“Our job as educators is to support students and help them realize their potential,” says Harris. “Learning is a social process, and one way of supporting students is building a sense of community and promoting social engagement enables student success.”
Harris is leading the way for other faculty to partake in an entirely new way of thinking about the challenges of equity, diversity, inclusivity, and access to engineering education across the ecosystem.
Since joining York University in 2017, Harris has worked to implement active learning and flipped classrooms and introduce new educational technology. He is an active member of the Canadian Engineering Education Association with research interests in the areas of engineering education, including identity formation, student experiences, and diversity, equity and inclusion. Harris’ engineering education praxis is influenced by his multi-disciplinary education. Harris completed his PhD and postdoctoral fellowship in mechanical engineering at the University of Toronto and his MEd at York University.