Mary Kasarda, an associate professor of mechanical engineering in the College of Engineering at Virginia Tech, received the university's 2010 Edward S. Diggs Teaching Scholars Award.

Sponsored by the Virginia Tech Academy of Teaching Excellence, the Diggs Teaching Scholars Award was established in 1992 and is presented annually to three Virginia Tech faculty members to recognize exceptional contributions to the teaching program and learning environment. A cash award is given to each recipient and their academic department. Diggs Teaching Scholars are invited to lead the Diggs Roundtable -- a series of presentations and a discussion of their innovative teaching -- a year after receiving the award.

The award is supported by an endowed fund from an estate gift by the late Edward S. and Hattie Wilson Diggs. Mr. Diggs was a 1914 graduate of Virginia Tech.

In addition to her duties as associate professor of mechanical engineering, Kasarda is an associate department head for graduate studies for the mechanical enginering department. Her research focuses on magnetic bearings, machine health monitoring and engineering education topics including the investigation of factors influencing the retention of women in engineering and pre-engineering programs.

After joining the Virginia Tech faculty in 1997, she received a National Science Foundation CAREER award in 1998 and the Virginia Tech College of Engineering Outstanding New Assistant Professor Award in 2000. From 2003 to 2004, she acted as an education consultant through Virginia Tech to Sweet Briar College to help create a new engineering program at this all-women liberal arts college, and she currently serves as on the Sweet Briar, Va.-based college's Engineering Program Advisory Board. She is a member, and chair-elect, of the American Society of Mechanical Engineering (ASME) Committee for Engineering Accreditation.

She currently works with Brenda Brand, of the Virginia Tech School of Education, in the Virginia Tech/Montgomery County Public Schools Robotics Partnership which situates university undergraduate mechanical engineering students in a high school robotics classroom on a regular basis, which includes preparation for the FIRST robotics competition for the high school students.

Kasarda received her bachelor's degree, master's degree and Ph.D. from the University of Virginia. She also has six years of professional engineering experience including employment with Du Pont and Ingersoll Rand.

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