Teaching can be a thankless job and this can feel especially true as the school year comes to an end. Amidst the schedule of final projects, industry visits, exams, and graduation, we know you are working extra hard for your students and their futures. That’s why the Education Team at PTC wants to take time during this Teacher Appreciation Week to celebrate you and the difference you make every day. 

To all educators, Happy Teacher Appreciation Week! We thank you for seeing student potential and patiently nurturing and growing it because we know that we wouldn’t be where we are today without educators like you! We hope you have a wonderful week before the sprint to the end.

This year is the third annual Onshape Educator Awards and we love having the chance to celebrate and recognize some individuals who exemplify what it means to inspire students all around the world. 

We received nominations from peers, colleagues, friends, and students. Submissions came from 42 different countries and represented educators of grade 5 through the university level. We were overwhelmed with the incredible stories of educators helping students build skills, make connections, and get inspired. It’s obvious these educators are changing lives. 

So, let’s get to the 2023 Onshape Educator Award winners.

K12 Educator of the Year Winner

Kevin Soertsz

It’s not easy to find applications for everything in the classroom. Mr. Kevin Soertsz, an educator at the HELP International School in Malaysia, captures student interest by presenting real-world problems and asking students to find solutions. He has sparked interest in engineering by asking students to design hardware on the ISS, focusing on aerodynamics in F1 car design, designing Go-Karts, and creating developmental toys.  

Sometimes it’s also about having fun. Mr. Soertsz asks his engineering students to design a toy for younger students that helps develop balance and coordination. These products that are designed in Onshape by students are also 3D printed, tested, and revised. It’s clear Mr. Soertsz is able to create a sense of value in student work and create genuine learning experiences.

Here are testimonials from students in Mr. Soertsz class:

  • Mr. Kevin doesn’t just focus on CAD and the aesthetics of designing an F1 team – he also links it to real life applications of science and business, stressing the importance of aerodynamics in F1 car design, an engineer’s precision in tolerances and the impact of logo and uniform design on the brand image of an F1 team.

  • As an educator, his number one priority is creating an environment in which students prioritize creativity, innovation and most importantly – knowledge. 

University Educator of the Year Winner

Mark Palmeri

Dr. Mark Palmeri was nominated for this year’s award for the significant impact he has had on his students through his teaching and the incredible projects he facilitates. He is a professor at Duke University in the Biomedical Engineering Department. 

Dr. Palmeri has used Onshape in his courses to teach students about medical device design and development. In his BME290 and BME590 courses, students use Onshape to design and prototype medical devices, such as endoscopic tools and orthopedic implants. Through these projects, students learn valuable skills in engineering design and prototyping, as well as gain experience working with the latest software and technology.

He teaches students in a project-based learning environment, where they can collaborate on projects they are passionate about. These projects have included designing and fabricating parts for prosthetics, altering toys for differently abled children, and making prizes for children who attend science camps. This has allowed students to develop engineering skills while helping others and giving back to the community.

Here are a few testimonials from one of the students who nominated Dr. Palmeri:

  • Dr. Palmeri has been an exceptional teacher who has made a significant impact on my education and that of my peers. 

  • He has encouraged us to explore our personal interests in biomedical engineering by giving us the freedom to work on projects that are personally interesting to us. This approach has led to an increase in student engagement, creativity, and motivation.

  • Dr. Palmeri's guidance has helped us achieve remarkable accomplishments using Onshape. We have designed and fabricated working prototypes of medical devices and assistive devices for people with disabilities. This has allowed us to gain valuable experience with the entire design process, from ideation to fabrication. 

  • Dr. Palmeri is an outstanding teacher who has made a significant impact on our education. He has used Onshape in a unique and impactful way in his curriculum, fostered collaboration among his students, changed his curriculum with cloud-based CAD, gotten us excited to use CAD, worked with other educators, and helped us achieve surprising results. 

Mentor of the Year Winner

Abha Bosworth

After reading through so many strong submissions, we realized not all educators teach in a traditional classroom. There are a number of professionals that choose to teach in their free time as mentors and coaches of various competitive teams. We know these mentors provide an important facet to a student’s education so we decided to open a new category of award this year, just for them. So, let’s meet our Mentor of the Year!

For the past 4 years, Mrs. Abha Bosworth has served as the Coach of FIRST Tech Challenge robotics Team 16884, Mechanical Advantage, in San Diego, California. Mechanical Advantage is also a public charity dedicated to using robotics-based STEM education to improve the lives of children. Mechanical Advantage uses Onshape to teach CAD to students around the world and at home at no cost.

During the pandemic, not only was Coach Abha a frontline worker in her job as a physician assistant, but she was also coaching the team while they partnered with a local civic association to design PPE for first responders and essential workers. The team then used its 3D printers to print headbands for face shields and ear savers to tension face masks. The team shared its CAD models with other people with 3D printers. As a result of this effort, over 10,000 face shield parts and hundreds of ear savers were manufactured on home printers, and the completed PPE was delivered to hospitals, businesses, and clinics throughout the United States and Mexico.

She also led the team as they started teaching workshops over Zoom. The team continues to teach CAD to students throughout San Diego County at week-long summer and holiday camps and as part of after-school programs, like the robotics program the team runs at Cristo Rey San Diego High School, a school predominately serving students living below the federal poverty level. To date, the team has taught CAD to over 2,000 students at home and abroad.

Watch the video below about Coach Abha made by her students: 

Here are a few testimonials about Coach Abha that were shared in her nomination:

  • The team continues to use Onshape to teach CAD to local school children. To date, over 2,000 students in grades 4-12 throughout San Diego County, some in the poorest neighborhoods, have been taught how to CAD using Onshape. This wouldn't be possible without the support and encouragement of Coach Abha.

  • The team recently partnered with the World Health Organization and a non-profit partner in Warsaw, Poland to teach Ukrainian and Belarusian children refugees CAD using OnShape. Students attending the class designed a snowperson holiday ornament that the team printed on its 3D printers and mailed to the students at no cost. The students just received their creations and were thrilled. The team has been asked to teach more refugee children CAD using OnShape.

  • These projects wouldn't be possible without the creative and thoughtful guidance of Mrs. Bosworth who continues to make opportunities available for the team where they can grow and share their knowledge of OnShape as part of their STEM education program centered around FIRST robotics.

Thank you to all nominators who took the time to recognize their teachers, and to all educators who work tirelessly to inspire students.

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