“The secret of joy in work is contained in one word – excellence. To know how to do something well is to enjoy it.” – Pearl S. Buck, American writer and novelist
Professor W.J. Minkowycz is the epitome of excellence. He doesn’t just enjoy his work; he loves it. And on March 16, the highly-awarded and immensely-respected professor celebrated his 50th year of service in the Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering (MIE) at UIC.
Minkowycz, a resident of Park Ridge, Ill., started working at UIC on March 16, 1966, and during this time he has made significant contributions to the national and international professional community and to the University of Illinois at Chicago, encompassing research of the highest quality, dynamic and inspiring teaching, and worldwide leadership in the area of technical information dissemination.
His dedication is evident by his long list of accomplishments and the slew of awards and accolades he has received (see below for a full list of awards). The professor has been awarded the UIC Silver Circle Award for Excellence in Teaching six times, and has been nominated for the award a staggering 18 times throughout his career. Winning and being nominated for this award is a tremendous compliment as its selection committee is made up of the graduating seniors.
“My office door is always open,” said Minkowycz. “Even when I work late hours, students can come and see me anytime and they appreciate that.”
“Teaching is a talent,” he added. “Besides being very knowledgeable and confident about lecturing, it’s the personality making the presentation intermixed with a sense of humor. It’s about presenting it in an interesting way.”
It’s not just the students who have a great deal of respect for Minkowycz. His peers speak highly of him, too.
“I knew professor Minkowycz before I started working at UIC in 2000,” said Dr. Farzad Mashayek, MIE Department Head and professor. “He is the editor of four journals and I knew him from the journals. He is very well known in his area. I don’t think there are very many people who don’t know him if they are in the area of heat transfer, energy or fluid mechanics.”
“He is a great teacher and made huge contributions over the years,” added Mashayek. “He also is the editor of several book series. He is still in the mainstream and knows what’s going on.”
“He’s a legend in this department. He’s a legend in his field. He is a pillar in his area of thermodynamics and heat transfer, and he is a fantastic colleague, friend, and mentor,” said MIE Professor Farid Amirouche, who has worked with Minkowycz for more than 30 years. “He loves teaching and symbolizes everything a good teacher is. He brings good values that we all try to seek and look for. I like the idea that he is engaged and really takes the job to a level where he is fully vested.”
With a growing reputation for excellence, Minkowycz has been presented with multiple opportunities to work at other universities as a department head and a dean. But he chose to stay at UIC.
“It’s a nice environment to teach, my colleagues are terrific, and it’s located in one of the nicest cities in the United States,” he said. “I really enjoy being at UIC. I have been treated very well by all of the department heads and deans and there was no reason for me to leave.”
Apart from his professional happiness at UIC, Minkowycz is close to his family and wanted to be near them.
“With my family here in Chicago I never wanted to go,” he said. “My wife’s parents, and my sister and her family are all here. I am very happy at UIC and never interviewed at other schools locally either.”
The professor has witnessed the university change in many ways. Many buildings have been built and it has become a highly-rated university with Ph.D. programs. During his tenure, he experienced significant changes in his field of research, which he noted that “research always changes.”
“For a long time research was based on traditional fluids and geometries and heat transfer,” he said. “Recently, there has been a big shift in research at the microscale and nanoscale.”
For five decades, Professor Minkowycz has been the intellectual leader of the heat transfer community. His editorial activities — which includes four journal and 31 book editorships — have nurtured the growth of heat transfer activities worldwide.
“It’s been the happiest 50 years of my life,” he said. “I have been blessed with good health. I never missed any classes. I’m a lucky person.”
Learn more about Professor W.J. Minkowycz, the James P. Hartnett Professor of Mechanical Engineering, by clicking Minkowycz Profile.
AWARDS, HONORS, MEMBERSHIPS, AND ACCOMPLISHMENTS
• 75th Anniversary of the ASME Heat Transfer Division – 2013
• College of Engineering Teaching Award – 2009, 2012, 2013
• A.V. Luikov Medal, National Academy of Sciences of Belarus – 2012
• James. P. Hartnett Professor of Mechanical Engineering – 2006
• ASME Classic Paper Award in Heat Transfer – 2006
• Six-Time Winner; UIC Silver Circle Award for Excellence in Teaching – 1994, 1990, 1987, 1981, 1976, 1975 (Nominated 18 times)
• ASEE Centennial Certificate – 1993, 1994
• ASME Heat Transfer Memorial Award – 1993
• AMOCO Award for Teaching UG – 1990
• The University Distinguished Teacher Award – 1989
• ASEE Ralph Coats Roe National Award – 1988
• Board of Trustees Recognition for Excellence in Teaching – 1987
• Fellow of the ASME – 1986
• The Harold A. Simon College of Engineering Award for Excellence in Teaching – 1986
• Four journal editorships
• 31 book editorships
By David Staudacher, UIC