A leader in hands-on aerospace education, a champion for underrepresented students in STEM, and an international expert in transportation engineering are the recipients of the 2018-19 Provost’s Awards for Academic Excellence.
Donald Edberg, aerospace engineering; Steve Alas, biology; and Xudong Jia, civil engineering; will be recognized at their respective college commencement ceremonies in May and will present at a symposium on Oct. 10, 2019.
The Provost’s Awards for Excellence recognize faculty who have earned distinction in the areas of teaching, service, and scholarly and creative activities. They are made possible by a grant from the $42 million Kellogg Legacy Project Endowment.
Excellence in Teaching
Donald Edberg, professor in the aerospace engineering department, joined Cal Poly Pomona in 2001 after earning an aerospace sciences doctorate from Stanford University. He received the Outstanding Teaching Award from the College of Engineering and the Northrop Grumman Faculty Award for teaching excellence in 2016. Edberg spearheaded the development of Uninhabited Vehicle Lab and the Astronautics Club. He is the champion and adviser for CPP Zero-Gravity flight team that was selected three times by NASA, a rare honor as only a few institutions in the nation achieve this distinction. Under his supervision, student design teams have secured top three finishes 19 times (including seven first place finishes) since 2007. Edberg practices a hands-on approach to teaching, works closely with local industries, and many of his past students are leaders in the aerospace industry. Edberg authored the textbook “Space Launch Vehicle Design,” which has been endorsed and accepted for publication by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics.
Excellence in Service
Steve Alas, professor in the biological sciences department and the director of the Science Educational Enhancement Services (SEES) has demonstrated exemplary service through support and engagement of underrepresented students. Alas’ efforts through SEES, CSU-LSAMP, the NSF BioTIER and STEM Success programs have helped over 2,500 students at Cal Poly Pomona. Major grants from the California Wellness Foundation, the Hearst Foundation, the Chancellor’s Office, and the National Science Foundation have strengthened student success in STEM fields. In addition, Alas serves the local community through programs like the CPP summer Discovery Camps for K-12 students, who come to campus and are taught by SEES students. To date, more than 600 K-12 students per summer have experienced hands-on learning at the Discovery Camps. Alas provides leadership to the Biological Sciences Department, the College of Science, the Academic Senate, and the Division of Academic Affairs as either a member or chair of multiple committees.
Scholarly and Creative Activities
Xudong Jia, professor and chair of civil engineering, has earned a regional, national and international reputation as a distinguished researcher, having received four awards, written two textbooks and published 76 papers. He received $1.5 million to complete 41 externally funded projects. Jia developed QuakeView – an Earthquake Pre-Warning System, for which he was commended by former Sen. Barbara Boxer. As a practitioner in solving transportation problems, Jia managed a big data environment — the Regional Integration of Intelligent Transportation Systems — and conducted research for LA Metro from 2008 to 2014. A national and international expert, he is frequently invited to speak at conferences, and he gave a keynote address at the 2017 China-ASEAN Mining Submit Forum. Jia has also presented workshops to presidents, deans, chairs and faculty in education and civil engineering at 22 Chinese universities. Jia established the UCCONNECT Summer Research Program and hosted professional conferences in 2014 and 2016. Through these programs, more than 70 students received financial support to attend conferences and present papers, and more than 80 students received master’s degrees in civil engineering. In addition, through partnerships with Caltrans, Jia’s students have worked on real-life projects and received numerous awards in competitions since 2007.