Dr. Eric Bubar, the founding associate professor of engineering at Marymount University who is well-known for using his scientific and 3D-printing talents to support those in need locally and around the world, has been recognized by the Virginia Foundation for Independent Colleges (VFIC) with an award for his dedication to higher education and student success.
The recognition is bestowed on one faculty nominee per year across all VFIC institutions who has helped incorporate the use of technology through innovative ways in the undergraduate educational experience on their campus. Recipients receive funding to support their research and professional development.
Bubar received the 2022 H. Hiter Harris III Excellence in Instructional Technology Award during the VFIC’s annual fall luncheon, held in Richmond.
“There’s a reason why Dr. Bubar is so recognizable around campus – no matter the subject, he has an innate ability to connect with his students and turn complex ideas into understandable knowledge. This has turned him into a classroom and research-lab favorite,” said Marymount president Irma Becerra.
“He’s the perfect fit for the Excellence in Instructional Technology Award,” Becerra said.
“It’s a tremendous honor to be recognized for integrating technology into the classroom,” Bubar said. “The existence of such a program clearly demonstrates the VFIC’s commitment to assuring that students receive instruction in the technologies that will drive the future.”
Bubar began teaching on Marymount’s campus in 2011, using his background in stellar astrophysics to teach courses in astronomy, physics and physical science. He now applies his research skills as the first-ever associate professor in Marymount’s new engineering programs, developing open-source solutions for individuals in need of assistive technologies by using microcontrollers, electronics and 3D printing and design.
At the onset of the pandemic, Bubar put his 3D-printing skills to good use in the service of others. With a team of volunteers that included current and former students, he created scores of 3D-printed, reusable face shields for use at hospitals, providing an added layer of protection for health-care workers prior to the supply of standard PPE equipment catching up with the intense demand seen across the nation in 2020.
Through his research lab on Marymount’s campus, Bubar creates solutions to diverse problems – ranging from adapting devices to allow children with limb differences to play musical instruments, to creating tools to aid police officers with rehabilitation exercises. Most recently, he has brought a virtual-reality development lab to the university, as he has designed virtual-reality STEM-themed “escape rooms” and has worked with Marymount’s Center for Optimal Aging to create gamified rehabilitation exercise experiences and simulations that allow patients to improve their quality of life.
“A core part of our new engineering program’s mission is to give the engineers of tomorrow access to digital fabrication technology and provide them with a broad liberal-arts training to apply those skills towards the betterment of others,” Bubar said.
Bubar holds physics degrees from Clemson University (Ph.D. and M.S.) and Appalachian State University (B.S.).
In addition to Dr. Bubar’s award, the VFIC also honored Dr. Michael Wolyniak of Hampden-Sydney College and Dr. Mary Jane Carmichael of Hollins University during the awards presentation with the 2022 Libby and Hiter Harris Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching Award and the 2022 H. Hiter Harris III Rising Star Award, respectively.
This is the second straight year that a Marymount faculty member has taken home a Harris Family Award from the VFIC. Dr. Cassandra Good, an associate professor of History at Marymount, received the 2021 H. Hiter Harris III Rising Star Award.
The Virginia Foundation for Independent Colleges includes 16 institutions of higher education in the commonwealth. In addition to Marymount, Hampden-Sydney and Hollins, they include Bridgewater College, Emory & Henry College, Mary Baldwin College, Randolph College, Randolph-Macon University, Roanoke College, Shenandoah University, Sweet Briar College, the University of Lynchburg, the University of Richmond, Virginia Union University, Virginia Wesleyan University and Washington and Lee University.
For additional information, see the Website at www.vfic.org.