Ms. Margaret R. Scaturro Heil earned her undergraduate degree in Biology and English Literature from McGill University (Montreal Canada) and a Masters degree from North Carolina State University (NCSU) in Technical Communication. She also has a Team Specialist Certification from NCSU's Industrial Extension Service. Ms. Heil is currently the Director for the NCSU Computer Science Senior Design Center (SDC). The SDC’s mission is to educate students by providing a real industrial software development problem and by teaching and integrating the principles of software engineering, teamwork, and professional communication in the solution of that problem. As a technical communicator, Ms. Heil assists students with team formation and development, project management, interpersonal communication, written documentation, and oral technical presentations. As administrator of the SDC, Ms. Heil coordinates a staff of technical advisors and teaching assistants working with and evaluating students across all sections of Senior Design. She is also responsible for communicating with SDC sponsors, refining project descriptions in cooperation with SDC technical advisors, and coordinating project set up with departmental IT staff.
In the early years of her career, Ms. Heil worked for Hazleton Laboratories in Madison, Wisconsin as a Study Coordinator – she managed various elements of toxicology studies, including the creation of written documents and client interim reports. Ms. Heil was then hired by the University of Wisconsin – Madison, Food Science Department, to supervise and manage their renowned Taste Panel operation. This coordination included scheduling projects and workers as well as the preparation of written client reports. Ms. Heil also regularly coordinated volunteer groups and was invited to facilitate committees and meetings for various organizations. These experiences influenced her desire to learn more about teaming and formal/informal group communication which led her to the NCSU Industrial Extension Service’s Team Specialist Certification Program.
The previous Director of the Computer Science SDC had a vision that students, in addition to their technical skills, needed to be proficient as team members and communicators within their discipline. Ms. Heil was hired in 1996 in an attempt to fulfill that vision. The team teaching approach – a technical advisor along with a communication specialist – proved to be an effective way to help computer science students develop skills essential to their professional lives beyond academics. The SDC staff expects students to be technically competent, and also to recognize and value the importance of working together and conveying clear, coherent messages. In 1996, Ms. Heil worked with ~10 students in an elective course. Since that time, the program has grown substantially and the project course offered within the SDC is now required of all CSC Seniors. In a recent semester, Ms. Heil coordinated the SDC faculty and staff efforts over three sections totaling 125 students placed on 30 teams studying unique problems. Since being at NCSU, Ms. Heil has coordinated ~500 teams of senior design students and has facilitated the mentorship of these teams with ~175 industrial sponsors. She was a co-mentor of three winning student teams of the IEEE Computer Society International Design Competition (2003: 3rd Place, 2005: 1st Place, 2006: 1st Place; Note: this was the first time in the history of the CSIDC that students from any university in the world placed first in the competition in two consecutive years). In 2010, Ms. Heil was a recipient of an NC State University Outstanding Teacher Award.
Over the years, Ms. Heil has authored or co-authored 9 peer-reviewed publications, and she has been invited to speak about the SDC and to conduct workshops related to her work at both national and international conferences.
Photo by Murdoch
- IBM Faculty Award - 2015, 2016, 2018
- Outstanding Undergraduate Computer Science Staff Member Award - 2014
- NC State Academy of Outstanding Teachers inductee - 2010
- IEEE Computer Science International Design Competition, mentor of 1st place team - 2006
- IEEE Computer Science International Design Competition, mentor of team who received Software Engineering award - 2006
- IEEE Computer Science International Design Competition, mentor of 1st place team - 2005
- IEEE Computer Science International Design Competition, mentor of 3rd place team - 2003