Innovative teaching earns Keith national award


Jason Keith

A Mississippi State engineering administrator is receiving a national award for innovative teaching.

Jason Keith, director of the Dave C. Swalm School of Chemical Engineering, is a recent selection for the David Himmelblau Award for his decade of work in developing hydrogen fuel cell and energy education modules.

A member of the university faculty since 2011, Keith also holds the Bagley College of Engineering's Earnest W. Deavenport Jr. Chair.

Sponsored by the American Institute of Chemical Engineers' Computing and Systems Technology Division, the Himmelblau Award recognizes a group or individual that creates and further develops new ideas for computing aids in chemical engineering education.

Keith, a University of Notre Dame doctoral graduate, began working on the computing module in 2006 while teaching at Michigan Technical University. While at MTU, he began collaborating with University of Michigan chemical engineering professor H. Scott Fogler, a prominent researcher he had respected and studied since an undergraduate at the University of Akron.

Keith had conceived the fuel cell energy-based problems as a better way to introduce the concepts into the classroom. He and Fogler decided to expand the project by posting it on the Internet and inviting colleagues at other institutions to get involved.

With initial funding from Computer Aids for Chemical Engineering, a non-profit corporation emphasizing education through computing aids, Keith began to work with other faculty members in Illinois, Michigan and Pennsylvania. The expanded group successfully developed additional educational modules, including nearly 50 from chemical and other engineering disciplines.

A broader grant from the U.S. Department of Energy enabled Keith to expand the operation from basic problems for freshman engineering majors to more advanced problems in chemical, mechanical and electrical engineering.

"Sometimes the problems included in textbooks are traditional," Keith said. "By creating new problems, it gives professors flexibility in how they teach their classes and the kinds of problems to which they expose their students."

After further developing the modules through constant testing, he began publishing research papers and making presentations on his efforts to the AIChE and American Society for Engineering Education.

In 2008, the ASEE honored Keith with its Raymond W. Fahien Award.

In addition to AIChE and ASEE memberships, he is a trustee for Texas-based CACHE, a not-for-profit organization founded in 1969 to promote cooperation among universities, industry and government in developing and distributing computer-related educational aids for the chemical engineering profession.

For more information about Keith, visit

Mary Kate McGowan | Bagley College of Engineering

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