All good educators share common qualities like intellect, innovation and passion. But perhaps the quality that separates the great from the good is the ability to care. Style and method can change, but without caring, students will never reach their fullest potential. Paul Cohen, Edgar S. Woolard Distinguished Professor, has made caring the focal point of his forty-year career in higher education. That commitment has earned him the Albert G. Holzman Distinguished Educator Award.
Cohen’s contributions to education and constant focus on providing the best possible educational experience are the hallmark of his career. “The most important thing is to care about students as a person,” he reflected. “Once you recognize this, the way you prepare, teach and treat students fall into place.” For Cohen, it is rewarding to see students grasp critical concepts and grow, knowing that the professor provided the background to be successful.
Providing the best possible experience requires a commitment to change. “I think it is important to continue to innovate, adapt, and change the content one is teaching over time as the needs of the students change,” said Julie Swann, ISE department head. Cohen has continually introduced new and contemporary topics into his classes, developed new courses and added multiple interdisciplinary components. He believes that it is essential to prepare for lifelong learning and to grow professionally. “There is much to be learned outside the classroom while in school, and this learning certainly continues past graduation,” Cohen stated.
Cohen served as the ISE department head from 2007 until 2017, where he spearheaded the focus on providing students with an excellent educational experience. “Even after stepping down from that role, he has continued to be involved in education, research, and outreach,” reflected Swann. Cohen pioneered the modernization of a traditional Industrial Engineering area by bringing IT tools into “planning and control” instruction and developed new tools and methods for manufacturing applications in engineering. “His enthusiasm for engineering has been contagious for everyone he contacts,” explained professor emeritus Richard Wysk.
Cohen embodies what an engineering professor should be. “When I look at the list of past winners, many are good friends who I respect greatly, and I am humbled,” Cohen said. “To be honored for something you love doing, contributing to the education of students, our next generation of professionals is a wonderful recognition and a tribute to my many mentors who shaped my career and its values.” Winning this prestigious award enhances the department’s reputation for high-quality education in the eyes of industrial engineers worldwide. “We are so proud that Dr. Cohen has been selected for this distinguished educator award, which shows the national and international reputation that he has as an educator of both undergraduate and graduate students,” Swann remarked.
Albert G. Holzman Distinguished Educator Award
The Albert G. Holzman Distinguished Educator Award is one of the Institute of Industrial and Systems Engineers (IISE) most prestigious awards recognizing educators who contributed significantly to the profession through teaching, research and publication, extension, innovation, and administration. “His contributions to industrial engineering span all of the areas required to be a most distinguished educator,” explained Wysk. His door is always open for students and colleagues, whether they have questions or need to discuss ideas. “He has extended himself for students in all of his classes and has even helped students with other classes that he is not teaching,” Wysk recalled.
Recently, Cohen also received the IISE Manufacturing & Design Division’s Outstanding Service Award, recognizing his leadership and contributions to the manufacturing public and community, further showing his dedication and care to the industrial engineering field.