Melissa Baumann

Melissa  Baumann
  • BS Metallurgical and Materials Engineering 1983

Why did you choose Michigan Tech?
I chose Michigan Tech because of the quality engineering program and the beautiful Copper Country setting where I could study and ski.

Tell us about a memorable experience you had with a class or about a favorite professor?
My favorite professor was Tom Courtney. Professor Courtney gave the most inspiring and mid-blowing lectures. He showed us the power of Materials Science Engineering and inspired me to go on to get my MS and PhD in Engineering. I also remember getting back my homework assignments in his class... complete with footprints because he wasn't the neatest and often our homework ended up on the floor after grading. :-)

Now, how about a memorable experience outside of class?
I loved fishing and spent many a happy day fishing for walleye on Otter Lake with the eagles as company... One day I even caught a sturgeon (which I released) which remains the largest fish I ever had on the end of my line.

How well did Michigan Tech prepare you for your career?
My Michigan Tech education was excellent preparation for graduate school where the classes seemed almost easy in comparison. The Materials Science Engineering (then Metallurgical Engineering) faculty were an outstanding group and while we spent copious hours in the casting and metallography labs, we also shared many a fun hour with them at the Doghouse and the Library.

What was your first job after graduation and how has your career progressed?
My first job after graduate school and my postdoctoral appointment was as an assistant professor at Michigan State University. I remained at MSU as a tenured faculty for 25 years and recently moved on to Auburn University where I'm still a professor of engineering but also the assistant provost for undergraduate studies and director of the Auburn University Honors College.

Tell us about a few of your career highlights and notable achievements?
The biggest highlights of my career are the awards I've received for teaching. They are a reflection of the fine teaching I received at Michigan Tech. Among the awards I've been honored to receive are the 2009-2010 CIC-Academic Leadership Fellow, 2006 MSU Alumni Club of Mid-Michigan Quality in Undergraduate Teaching Award, 2006 Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society, 2006 Empire Who's Who of Women in Education, 2005 Who's Who in Engineering Education, and, in 2001 and 1999, the Withrow Teaching Award, College of Engineering.

I've also been blessed with outstanding undergraduate research students and treasure being named the 2013 Michigan State University Undergraduate Research Mentor of the Year award. My dedication to undergraduate research was a direct result of my summer research internship for Prof Angus Hellawell. I have tried to return his thoughtful mentoring by fostering the research careers of my own students, with five being named Goldwater Scholarship winners, eight National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellows, and most recently a Marshall Scholarship recipient.

What advice on being successful would you give to Tech students and young alumni?
Work hard and keep your Tech friends close. I am still close with my best friend in college and we both ended up as faculty, though at different institutions.

Would you share your philosophy of life?
Work hard, be faithful, be a good friend, and treasure your family.

Updated November 19, 2014, by Dr. Baumann