CSC News

April 07, 2010

Heil Receives NC State Outstanding Teacher Award

Ms. Margaret Heil, associate director for the Computer Science Senior Design Center and lecturer at NC State University, has been named an NC State Outstanding Teacher for 2009-2010.  The award, sponsored by the Office of the Provost, was announced during the General Faculty Meeting on March 23, 2010.


For more than 10 years, the Senior Design Center (SDC) has been bringing together student teams with corporate sponsors to work on real-world projects providing valuable hands-on experience.  This includes giving students the opportunity to develop project management, teaming and communication skills, essential in today’s highly interactive workplace.  Not only are the students technically competent, but they also recognize and value the importance of working together and conveying clear, coherent messages.  While at NC State, Heil has coordinated more than 275 teams of senior design students and has facilitated the mentorship of these teams with over 70 industrial sponsors.


Heil is an excellent teacher and mentor who has been instrumental in the growth and success of the SDC.  She is a pioneer in exploring communication techniques with computer science students, working with them to refine their communication skills both as individuals and as members of a team.  According to one of her former students, “One of Ms. Heil’s greatest attributes is that she is able to listen to anything from hair-brained ideas to heated teammate debate and, with a cool head, provide support, counter arguments and enthusiasm.”


Another student added that in addition to teaching technical writing and presentation skills, Heil also helps students to prepare for job interviews and create insightful resumes. Additionally, she has been invited and selected to speak about the Senior Design Center, and to conduct workshops related to her work at both national and international conferences.


Heil earned her undergraduate degree in Biology and English Literature from McGill University (Montreal Canada) and a Masters degree from NC State in Technical Communication.  She also has a Team Specialist Certification from NC State’s Industrial Extension Service.  She was a co-mentor of three winning student teams of the IEEE Computer Society International Design Competition (CSIDC):  2003 – 3rd Place; 2005 – 1st Place; 2006 – 1st Place (Note:  this was the first time in the history of CSIDC that students from any university in the world placed first in the competition in two consecutive years.  Click here for more information.)


Before joining the computer science department in 1996, Heil worked for Hazleton Laboratories as a study coordinator managing various elements of toxicology studies, including the creation of written documents and client interim reports.  She then joined the University of Wisconsin – Madison’s Food Science Department to supervise and manage their renowned Taste Panel operation.  She regularly coordinated volunteer groups and was invited to facilitate committees and meetings for various organizations, which led her to the NC State’s Industrial Extension Service’s Team Specialist Certification Program.


Students, faculty, alumni and staff can recommend professors for an Outstanding Teacher Award. Committees within each college submit nominations to the Office of the Provost. Choices for the award are based on 1) candidate’s teaching philosophy, 2) courses taught, 3) candidate’s involvement in the department/university, and 4) endorsements by faculty colleagues and students.


Please join us in congratulating Ms. Heil on her Outstanding Teacher Award.  She is not the typical instructor teaching the subject matter of a discipline.  Instead she is a leader in assisting students to communicate effectively to become successful and productive citizens.




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