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An excellent and animated teacher, a prominent researcher and an all-around "great guy" -- these are the qualities that distinguish Duc T. Nguyen, professor of civil engineering, and earned him the A. Rufus Tonelson Faculty Award at the annual Faculty Awards and Retirement Dinner.

Sponsored by the Alumni Association, the honor includes $2,000 and a reserved parking space for one year.

"Dr. Nguyen is one of those rare individuals who is simultaneously outstanding in both teaching and research," said Zia Razzaq, professor of civil engineering.

Indeed, according to A. Osman Akan, chair of the civil and environmental engineering department, Nguyen's research is a cornerstone of his excellent teaching. "I believe Dr. Nguyen's formula for success in teaching includes incorporation of his research findings into the course material in addition to his natural talent and passion for teaching."

As director of Old Dominion's Multi-disciplinary Parallel-Vector Computation Center, Nguyen is known among his peers as a talented researcher who combines a thorough knowledge of mathematics and computer science with the engineering skills of a structural analyst. He is a pioneer in the cutting-edge field of advanced algorithms for structural analysis implementation on multiprocessor computers.

To students, Nguyen is mentor, motivator and master in his field. "His lectures were very clear and he was and still is known for his patience in explaining the hardest topics in simplest format," said one former student. "Outside of the classroom, Dr. Nguyen is always there to assist a student with any concerns or problems related to class work or to help them further
their education," said another.

His ability to take complex theories and make them understandable to students and his constant availability outside the classroom are the reason Nguyen is consistently rated "excellent" by his students on evaluations.

Additionally, his dedication has earned him honors as an Old Dominion Outstanding Faculty member in 1989, ASCE Faculty Member of the Year in 1990, a member of "Who's Who Among America's Teachers (The Best Teachers in America Selected by the Best Students)" in 1998, and a member of "Who's Who in Engineering and Science" in 1999.

"Professor Nguyen has a tremendous motivation, energy and enthusiasm for his work," said Hakizumwami B. Runesha, a former doctoral student at Old Dominion. "He is a dedicated individual with a caring and loyal personality. He is, for me, not only a former adviser and research associate but also a mentor and a friend."

Since joining the Old Dominion faculty in 1985, Nguyen has taught a broad range of undergraduate and graduate courses and supervised seven master's and 11 doctoral students, while publishing more than 100 articles, serving as referee for several national and international journals, teaching short courses both in the United States and abroad, and serving as organizer of
several national symposiums. He is the author of a textbook in press and another currently under preparation.

Nguyen, who has generated nearly $2 million in research grants, is highly regarded by the computational community for his research activities, as evidenced by his receipt of both the prestigious Cray-Gigaflop Award and a NASA Tech Brief Award.

He states that his general teaching philosophy centers around three key components: versatility, innovation and teaching-research interactions.

That, apparently, is the key to success.

A former student sums it up best, "Great guy, in and out of class. Thanks a lot Dr. Nguyen."

This article was posted on: May 16, 2001

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