WVU’s Dr. Nix Awarded NSF Outstanding Faculty Advisor Award

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has been a sponsor of the NSF Outstanding Faculty Advisor award for more than 20 years because the goals and objectives of the EcoCAR competition are well-aligned with the NSF mission: to transform the frontiers of science and engineering through research and education.

This year’s recipient of the NSF Outstanding Faculty Advisor Award is Dr. Andrew Nix, from West Virginia University. To his students, Dr. Nix is more than just a faculty advisor. He’s a mentor, a teacher, and their biggest cheerleader. Dr. Nix throws himself into the competition with his whole heart.

Dr. Nix exemplifies everything it means to be not only an advisor to his students but a mentor as well. He always takes care of them, even down to details like bringing food and drinks for them when they are working late in the garage. Dr. Nix gives the students the freedom to manage their swimlane however they see fit, and works tirelessly to provide new ideas and useful feedback to improve both technical and managerial skills of the graduate student team leaders.

One of Dr. Nix’s students noted “Dr. Nix is one of the most kindhearted people I have met. He continuously treats everyone with the utmost respect and fosters a caring learning environment. I believe the students that graduate under him are ready for the next step in their lives. Most of my success in EcoCAR has been because of this man and I can’t thank him enough for it.”

He frequently makes appearances to unscheduled work sessions to build relationships with every undergraduate student that joins the WVU EcoCAR team. For even the newest students on the team, Dr. Nix exhibits his trust and confidence in his team by providing every student with the opportunity to make a significant impact to the program.  With the understanding that the spirit of the EcoCAR Competition is not only to win, but to network and collaborate with other universities, Dr. Nix encourages WVU students to reach out and work with teams from other universities participating in the competition.

Often times, Dr. Nix’s relationships with other team’s faculty advisors serves as the icebreaker between WVU students and other participating universities. This collaboration between universities is invaluable to student networking and increase the amount of resources the team has to be successful.

Another WVU team member mentioned “Dr. Nix has allowed this team to advance and reach success time and time again through his sheer determination and passion for this team.”

Dr. Nix has also had a lasting impact on the engineering curriculum at West Virginia University.  He has played a critical role in expanding the courses offered outside of his department and has assisted his fellow advisors in the process of expanding the courses taught in the Computer Science and Electrical Engineering (CSEE) department. Under his leadership, students now have the opportunity to begin gaining course credit during their junior year with multiple technical credit courses.

Dr. Nix has also demonstrated a significant interest in diversifying the WVU EcoCAR team by inviting team members from both engineering and non-engineering majors to join the team. He has built strong relationships with the administration in the Reed College of Media where faculty and students now see the many benefits that the program’s real-world experiences can provide.

But most notably it’s his close and sustained interactions with his students that has had such an extraordinary impact on their learning experience at WVU and has contributed immensely to placing them on the right path towards successful professional careers. He has not only equipped them with valuable technical knowledge and abilities but has also instilled in them the drive to work hard, think “out of the box” and always seek optimal, unconventional solutions to the most difficult problems.

Dr. Nix represents what it means to be a faculty advisor, professor, and mentor – caring for his students both in and out of EcoCAR, striving for success in the program, and fostering an open-minded learning environment for his students. Dr. Nix has been awarded $10,000 to go towards the WVU EcoCAR program.

To all the EcoCAR faculty advisors who dedicated so much time and provided such critical leadership and support for their students during the final year of the EcoCAR Mobility Challenge, we thank you. Every year we witness the unwavering dedication and commitment of EcoCAR faculty and the countless hours they spend mentoring and guiding their students. We thank you for all the personal sacrifices to bring success for your students and programs. We would not have been able to do this without you.