Dawn Kilkenny receives national teaching award for excellence in undergraduate engineering education

Dawn Kilkenny

Professor Dawn Kilkenny is the 2016 recipient of the Wighton Fellowship, a national award that recognizes excellence in undergraduate lab-based teaching at a Canadian engineering school. (Photo: Luke Ng / University of Toronto)

June 9, 2016 | By Luke Ng

Professor Dawn Kilkenny has been recognized with The Wighton Fellowship for her outstanding development and teaching of undergraduate biomedical engineering courses at the University of Toronto. Established in 1986, the award is issued annually by the Sandford Fleming Foundation and recognizes an individual who has made extraordinary contributions to laboratory-based undergraduate courses at a Canadian engineering school.

Kilkenny, a teaching-stream faculty member in the Institute of Biomaterials & Biomedical Engineering (IBBME), is known for her leadership in developing new biomedical engineering courses and learning opportunities for students across the Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering. Over the last several years, she has played a vital role in building up the Teaching Laboratory and Design Studio spaces, garnering more than $2-million for new teaching equipment and renovations. Her efforts have aided in establishing IBBME as the hallmark facility for undergraduate wet-lab teaching and design-based courses, through state-of-the-art teaching infrastructure for the Faculty’s Bioengineering Minor, Biomedical Engineering Minor and the Engineering Science Biomedical Systems Engineering Major.

As IBBME’s associate director of undergraduate programs, Kilkenny co-developed and taught BME 499Applied Research in Biomedical Engineering, a full-year course that provides final-year students in the Biomedical Engineering Minor with hands-on exposure to research through two distinct lab placements. She was also instrumental in the development of BME 498Biomedical Engineering Capstone Design, engaging students with diverse academic backgrounds, from medical exchange students to undergraduates from the Faculty of Arts & Science, in biomedical design. Both courses have experienced substantial enrolment increases since their inception.

Kilkenny further demonstrates her commitment to undergraduate education by overseeing the Undergraduate Summer Research Program, an initiative in IBBME that welcomes students with a range of academic backgrounds from across North America to conduct biomedical engineering research at U of T. Under her leadership, program participation has doubled over the past two years, reaching a record-high enrolment of more than 70 students in 2016.

“Dawn’s enthusiasm for engaging students and her leadership in numerous successful initiatives has significantly advanced the learning experience and opportunities for our undergraduate population,” said Professor Christopher Yip, director of IBBME. “The Wighton Fellowship is outstanding recognition of her efforts and impact, and I am grateful to the Sandford Fleming Foundation for acknowledging her contributions to engineering education in Canada.”

Kilkenny is the 31st Wighton Fellow to have been named and the third recipient from U of T. Professor Paul Jowlabar of the Department of Chemical Engineering & Applied Chemistry received this honour in 2008 and Dr. Scott Ramsay of the Department of Materials Science & Engineering was awarded in 2012.