Professor Matthew Mackay (MIE) is this year’s recipient of the University of Toronto Joan E. Foley Quality of Student Experience award. This award recognizes a member of the U of T community who goes above and beyond the requirements of their job, resulting in a broad and long-term positive impact on the quality of the student experience at the University.
Mackay currently serves as the Associate Chair of Undergraduate Studies for the Department of Mechanical & Industrial Engineering, and was responsible for leading a multi-year initiative to improve lab development and integration within the program’s mechatronics stream.
Mackay transformed the stream, creating new courses and overhauling outdated ones to bring in hands-on design and building experiences. As a result of his efforts, mechatronics is now the most popular stream in the program, taken by more than 90% of mechanical engineering students.
In addition to the improvements to the mechatronics stream, Mackay implemented a “design spine” within MIE — a continuous stream of courses with tightly integrated design projects and supporting laboratory experiences, that build upon each other from first year through the fourth-year capstone design course. He is also responsible for the creation of the course ‘Mechanical Engineering Design I’ to ensure that regardless of a student’s path through the program they will have the opportunity to tackle real-world design problems.
Professor Mackay also led the creation of a central space for students involved in traditional mechanical and mechatronics design. This makerspace, called the “M-Space,” has now been active for five years. Mackay then designed both lab series and design projects to leverage the M-Space that were integrated into mechanical engineering courses allowing students to experience a design project from inception to the final product.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, as courses moved online, the makerspace also found a way to function virtually, allowing no-contact prototyping services for students who need them. Mackay also collaborated with the department’s lab team to move traditional labs online, so that students could remotely operate real hardware as part of their online learning.
In 2014, Mackay received MIE’s Early Career Teaching Award and in 2017, the Faculty’s Early Career Teaching Award. In 2020 he was awarded the Wighton Fellowship, which is given to one engineering professor nationwide for excellence in laboratory development and teaching.
“It’s wonderful to see Matthew’s innovations and achievements recognized by the University,” says Markus Bussmann, Chair at the Department of Mechanical & Industrial Engineering. “His dedication to improving learning experiences and creating opportunities for our students is part of what makes U of T Engineering such a fantastic place.”