Brian Raeker, an ECE PhD student, was one of four College of Engineering students honored with the Towner Prize for Outstanding Engineering Graduate Student Instructors (GSIs) this year. To be selected, GSIs must demonstrate creativity or innovation as an instructor, excellence in teaching, and remarkable dedication to student success. Raeker was a GSI for EECS 330: Introduction to Antennas and Wireless Systems.
As a GSI, Raeker aimed to illustrate the real-world applications of electromagnetism, as well as minimize the number of barriers between students and their understanding of the course material. Raeker organized a lab tour for students to showcase the real-world uses of the course material, and he brought fellow PhD students to class as guest lecturers to discuss their work.
Raeker also fostered an encouraging and enthusiastic atmosphere in office hours. He engaged students in any setting, lab, or office hours and made sure they felt comfortable asking questions.
Additionally, Raeker revised lab manuals to reduce student frustration and improve clarity so students could focus on the concepts and applications of electromagnetism rather than the process. He compiled a manual for future GSIs in a position that is often short-term, illustrating his dedication to the education, preparation, and engagement of students.
“It was rewarding to see the students progressively become more interested in the broader topic of electromagnetics throughout the semester,” Raeker said. “Helping that interest grow in a student was particularly gratifying, since a GSI helped spark my own interest in the field years ago while I was an undergraduate student.”
Raeker earned both his BSE and MSE in Electrical Engineering from the University of Michigan. His research is in the field of Applied Electromagnetics and RF Circuits. He works to develop metasurfaces to form highly customized antenna radiation patterns from common sources at microwave frequencies and high-quality three-dimensional holograms at optical wavelengths. He is advised by Prof. Anthony Grbic.