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03/29/1995 08:00:00

Antonsson Receives Caltech's Feynman Prize for Excellence in Teaching

Erik Antonsson, associate professor of mechanical engineering at Caltech, has received the second annual Richard P. Feynman Prize for Excellence in Teaching.

This prize, which consists of a cash prize and an equivalent raise in the annual salary of the winner, is awarded each year to a Caltech professor who demonstrates unusual ability, creativity, and innovation in classroom and laboratory teaching. The prize is made possible by an endowment from Ione and Robert E. Paradise.

In honoring Antonsson, the selection committee cited his "series of innovative mechanical engineering design courses that, while maintaining the rigor of Caltech's traditional training, have exposed the students to open-ended problems with real-world constraints. These courses are so popular that students literally camp out the night before registration to be assured a place. Moreover the vigor with which some of the students approach the class is matched by no other formal educational process on this campus. Often Erik has had to warn students against spending too much time on his class, an enviable situation few other instructors have ever been in."

The annual Engineering Design Contest that is the culmination of his class "brings a sense of adventure and fun that Richard Feynman would have especially appreciated. Erik Antonsson's inspired teaching of these courses has created a new dimension in mechanical engineering education at Caltech."

Written by John Avery