Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence

Dr. Keith Strevett

2019 Medal for Excellence in Research University

The winner of the Medal for Excellence in Teaching at a Research University is Dr. Keith Strevett, a David Ross Boyd Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Oklahoma. Early in his teaching career, Dr. Strevett learned through trial and error that the best way to teach engineering was to provide a theoretical framework and then give students the opportunity to apply their knowledge to real-world problems. “Now, I like to say that I don’t teach problem solving, but rather I teach problem solvers,” he said.

His classes evolved from lecture-and-slide presentations to instructional videos that students can watch before class so that class time can be dedicated to robust interaction and problem-solving exercises. From there, Strevett also developed “show-me” videos to reinforce engineering concepts in action. The format became so popular that students use the show-me videos to prepare for their Fundamentals in Engineering Exam, a comprehensive exam given to all engineering interns. Through his laboratory-based courses, students design, build and test engineering designs to create potable water, build a self-propelled boat or devise a waste-water treatment system.

Former graduate assistant Kyle Walker recalls surveying Tar Creek, performing water-quality analysis of underground wells, and completing a soil erosion study as some of his learning experiences with Strevett. “This method of teaching brought out enthusiasm and encouraged us as students to want to learn more about each of our own areas of interest,” said Walker, now a professional engineering consultant. “In other words, he made it fun to learn!”

Civil engineer Ceara Parks described Strevett as “a mentor, a believer and a walking encyclopedia” who goes the extra mile to help students succeed. When she was a senior preparing for her Fundamentals in Engineering Exam, she confided in Strevett that she was afraid she would fail. “Without hesitation, he prepared a study plan for me. Twice a week for three months, Dr. Stevett promised to tutor me on the exam material – not because I didn’t know the materials, but because he realized I didn’t believe in myself.” When she passed the test, the biggest highlight of the day was telling Dr. Strevett.

The recipient of numerous teaching awards, Strevett also makes time to lead hands-on engineering programs for junior high and high school students to introduce them to careers in engineering.