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The current issue of Chemical Engineering Education features a lovely profile of Pablo Debenedetti, the vice dean of the School of Engineering and Class of 1950 Professor in Engineering and Applied Science.

The profile delineates Debenedetti’s many significant scholarly achievements (he was inducted into the National Academy of Engineering in 2000) but also offers up ample evidence of why he is such a beloved teacher at Princeton. The piece, written by Jean Tom *93, Athanassios Panagiotopoulos, and Richard Register, says that three qualities distinguish Debenedetti’s teaching:

“First, he truly teaches his students how to think: to first conceptualize and then apply new ideas, rather than simply showing them a formulaic approach to solving particular types of problems. To reach this goal, Pablo firmly grounds his courses in the fundamentals of the subject, providing the students a solid base for their own work.

“Second — perhaps a corollary of the first — Pablo recognizes that different students learn differently, and a new concept may be best explained to different students in different ways. Both in lecture and in his office hours, he will tirelessly approach the exposition of a new concept from various directions until he finds the method that allows  a particular student to internalize the idea.

“Third, Pablo always makes himself accessible to his students (all the more remarkable given his other obligations, and facilitated by the fact that he doesn’t seem to need much sleep), and takes a personal interest in each one.”

Read the full article here.

Photo by John Jameson