Cindy Finelli named David C. Munson, Jr. Collegiate Professor of Engineering

Finelli is a trailblazer and leader in the area of Engineering Education Research.
Prof. Cindy Finelli presented this talk January 16, 2024, on the occasion of being named the David. C. Munson, Jr. Collegiate Professor of Engineering.

Cindy Finelli has been named the David C. Munson, Jr. Collegiate Professor of Engineering in recognition of her outstanding contributions in the areas of research, education, and leadership.

Finelli is a trailblazer and leader in the area of Engineering Education Research (EER). She was the first faculty member hired under the College of Engineering’s EER initiative in 2015, and three years later became director of the newly-established EER graduate program. This program recently graduated its first cohort of graduate students

Her research is focused on teaching and learning at the undergraduate level, and on faculty professional development. A strong proponent of active learning, she identified strategies instructors can use in the classroom to lower student resistance to active learning, and she continues to advocate for faculty adoption of evidence-based teaching practices.

Finelli’s recent research includes goals of enhancing the success of college students with ADHD, and improving an engineering student’s understanding of the sociotechnical impact of technology. To achieve the latter goal, she is co-directing a multi-institution team to develop one-class course modules that can be easily incorporated into existing core courses in electrical engineering. Examples of these modules are a discussion of conflict minerals and issues related to electric vehicles. One of these modules is being introduced into EECS 215: Introduction to Electronic Circuits, a course she often teaches within the department. 

Finelli has also been a strong advocate for DEI in engineering. She has served on both the ECE Committee for an Inclusive Department and the CoE Faculty Race and Equity Training Steering Committee. She also helped establish a virtual seminar series to bring top scholars to U-M to present on research about the experiences of students who are BIPoC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) in engineering.

After earning her doctoral degree in Electrical Engineering:Systems at Michigan in 1993, Finelli joined the faculty at Kettering University, where she served as Founding Director of Kettering’s Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning. She returned to Michigan in 2003 to establish and direct U-M’s Center for Research on Learning and Teaching in Engineering, a position she left to join Electrical and Computer Engineering as its first faculty member in the area of Engineering Education Research.

As a leading expert in the field, Finelli is frequently invited to give national and university seminars about promoting evidence-based teaching, and she often provides insight on panels and special conference sessions about promoting instructional change. Through her leadership, numerous faculty have adopted evidence-based teaching practices, resulting in a better education for engineering students around the world.

Finelli is a Fellow of IEEE and the American Society of Engineering Education (ASEE). She has received several best paper awards and numerous professional honors and awards, including a Premier Award for Engineering Education Courseware. She has served as Deputy Editor for Journal of Engineering Education, and she serves on ASEE’s “Task Force on Faculty Teaching Excellence.” 

Collegiate professorships are named after faculty who have previously taught at the University of Michigan. Finelli selected David C. Munson, Jr., former Department Chair of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (2003-2006), former Dean of the College of Engineering (2006-2016), and current president of the Rochester Institute of Technology.

“Dave Munson was instrumental in creating tenure-line EER faculty positions in the engineering departments,” said Finelli. “As a result, I joined the EECS faculty from my staff position as Founding Director of the Center for Research on Learning and Teaching in Engineering as the first of several EER faculty across the college. He supported my colleagues and me as we established the EER graduate program, and he has served as a mentor to me throughout my career.”

Group shot
Lisa Lattuca, Steven Ceccio, David C. Munson, Jr., Dennis Sylvester, with Cindy Finelli seated. Photo by Miranda Howard.