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Release: June 14, 2002

Nixon appointed director of UI Center for Teaching

Wilfrid Nixon, professor in the University of Iowa College of Engineering department of civil and environmental engineering and research engineer at IIHR -- Hydroscience & Engineering, has been appointed director of the UI Center for Teaching.

In announcing the appointment, Lola Lopes, associate provost for undergraduate education, cited Nixon's long interest in improving education. "During his years at Iowa, Wilf has been heavily involved in curriculum development in the engineering program and he has participated in national programs on the teaching of engineering," she said. "He has special interest in outcome assessment -- particularly for hard to measure dimensions such as 'ability to communicate effectively' or 'ability to engage in life-long learning' -- and in the impact of distance learning on universities."

"This is a tremendous privilege and opportunity for me," Nixon said. "I'm excited about working with faculty at the University who have a strong commitment to innovation and excellence in teaching."

Nixon, who joined the UI faculty and IIHR in 1987, will continue to teach undergraduate and graduate students and conduct numerous research projects related to winter highway maintenance. He has conducted research under the Strategic Highway Research Program, and has served on the AASHTO (American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials) Lead States Team for Road Weather Information Systems (RWIS) and Anti-Icing. Registered as a professional engineer in Iowa, he has performed work for a number of State Departments of Transportation relating to winter maintenance and RWIS and is the author of more than 80 articles, papers and reports. Nixon has developed educational and technology transfer tools in the field of winter maintenance and has offered a web-based graduate course in winter maintenance, attracting students from as far away as Sweden.

Nixon's current research interests include the effects of anti-icing chemicals on pavements and maintenance equipment, the use of living snow fences to mitigate snow drifting on highways, and the development of improved ways of placing abrasives on highways, so as to maximize the impact of the abrasives on safe driving. In addition, he is examining how information flows affect winter maintenance decision-making, and how such flows can be improved. He currently serves as chair of the winter maintenance committee of the Transportation Research Board, a branch of the National Research Council (NRC). He also serves as vice president of the Iowa Section of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE).