Professor receives national teaching award

Michael Elliott was a bit surprised by the final project in Dr. Amine Ghanem’s Senior Design Class.  Analyzing the construction of the new CSUN Student Recreation Center would be a daunting but real-life assignment.

“I thought to myself, how are we going to be able to complete this,” said Elliott, a senior majoring in Construction Management Technology.  “I won’t lie, it was very challenging but not impossible. I have never had a teacher in all my past studies that has the ability to teach complex topics with ease that students will understand.  His teaching style ensures that all students are active in the classroom and student understanding of topics is No. 1 with Dr. Ghanem.”

It is because of this dedication that Ghanem will receive a national teaching honor this month, his students said.  Ghanem is an assistant professor in the Construction Management Technology Program and was nominated for the award by peers in the department.  He is one of three winners for the Associated Schools of Construction Region 7 National Teaching Award.

“This program (the Construction Management Technology Program) is important because of the quality and background of students who are enrolled in it,” Ghanem said in response to the honor.  “My teaching philosophy aims to prepare students to become successful construction managers and industry leaders capable of tackling both routine and major challenges faced by the construction profession.”

The program was established in 2005 and Ghanem describes it as “a bridge between the art of engineering and the practice of construction.”  He was also a key player in getting the program accredited by the American Council for Construction Education.  The program teaches students about the foundation of the construction and engineering industry with focuses on technical skills, management, safety guidelines and project control, said Ghanem.

Student Michael Sosa is a junior in the Construction Management Technology program and said this award will bring a well-deserved recognition to the university.

“I have had nothing but great experiences here at CSUN,” said Sosa.  “Students in the Los Angeles area now have the opportunity to attend a school that is recognized nationally for construction excellence. Professor Ghanem is one of the main reasons the program has advanced so much.”

All the hard work dims in comparison to the students’ success and gratitude, Ghanem said. 

“My passion for teaching is an extension of my own desire to learn, and it is this passion that fuels my pursuit of excellence in teaching,” Ghanem said.  “I strive to engage, challenge, and inspire growth in my students.”

Nazaret Dermendjian was one of the faculty members who nominated Ghanem.  She is the associate chair of the Department of Civil Engineering and Applied Mechanics.

In her letter she wrote, “Over the past three years, Amine has demonstrated to me time and again that he is an exceptional communicator and gifted teacher. He is very approachable and takes extra time to help students learn complex material. In spite of these formidable gifts, he is a humble and approachable person who loves to share his extensive knowledge with others, his students in particular.”

Elliott was able to succeed through the class project of the recreation center.  It is because of the real-world projects and supportive faculty that his experience with the Construction Management Technology Program has been great, Elliott said.

“What this project demonstrated to me was that we are prepared to enter the workforce and not to doubt yourself.  You really can do it if you put your mind to it and use the skill sets you have learned. (Dr. Ghanem) went above and beyond to ensure we were prepared.”