Mitzi Vernon, professor of industrial design in the College of Architecture and Urban Studies at Virginia Tech, has received the university's 2012 William E. Wine Award.

The William E. Wine Achievement Awards were established in 1957 by the Virginia Tech Alumni Association in memory of William E. Wine, Class of 1904, who was a former rector of the board of visitors and alumni association president. Following a college-level selection process of candidates nominated by students, faculty, and alumni, each college may put forth one nominee. Three faculty members are selected to receive this teaching award by a committee representing all eight colleges at the university. Each Wine Award winner receives $2,000 and automatic induction into the Academy of Teaching Excellence.

A member of the Virginia Tech community since 1995, Vernon has established herself as an exceptional teacher and innovative design scholar. Her career spans 20 years of practice and teaching in industrial design, engineering, and architecture.

Vernon has been the recipient of several patents and grants supporting her research in using design to teach science to children. She is the principal investigator and originator of the highly successful Fields Everywhere project, which involved faculty members and students from across the university, and has been awarded national and university grants totalling $215,000. Vernon’s total research funding is $1 million.

“Mitzi is highly regarded nationally and internationally as a top researcher, scholar, and educator,” said Jack Davis, the Reynolds Metals Professor of Architecture and dean of the college. “She has won numerous awards, all of which are the result of her curriculum innovation, engagement of students in research, and professionalism and entrepreneurship within the industry.”

“My time in Mitzi’s studio was the most challenging, gratifying, and productive of my academic career,” said Mars Mashburn, who earned a bachelor’s degree in industrial design in 2000 and is now director of product development for Tramontina USA Inc. “In her studios, one perceives a rigor and discipline that reflects on the commitment to quality that she shares with her students.”

Vernon was awarded the 2010 Design Excellence in Scholarship Award in the School of Architecture + Design and a Favorite Faculty Award by the Office of Residence Life. She was named an Edward S. Diggs Teaching Scholar, Teacher of the Week, Scholar of the Week, and a Dell ReGeneration International Design Scholar.

“In the classroom, Mitzi is brilliant,” said Richard M. Goff, associate professor and assistant department head for undergraduate programs in engineering education. “She is always well prepared, creative, insightful, and engaged in meaningful dialogue with students.”

Vernon received her bachelor’s degree from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, a master’s degree from Stanford University, and a Master of Architecture degree from Virginia Tech.



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