Once a student pursuing a master’s degree in the Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering, Chad Dolphin had no idea that in a few years he would become an assistant teaching professor in ABE. But his passion for teaching was apparent to his mentors from the beginning, and never went unnoticed.
Dolphin became a new faculty member in ABE over the summer. While the position is new for him, he has been working with students, faculty and staff in the department for years. Dolphin pursued his undergraduate and master’s degrees in ABE at Iowa State, and then worked in industry gaining real-world experience for two years before coming back.
During the time that Dolphin was on track for more education in ABE, he served as a supplemental instructor for the department and taught 27 credits worth of undergraduate courses all while completing his master’s degree.
“When I got my undergraduate degree here in the department, I had the opportunity to serve as a supplemental instructor, and during my master’s I taught 27 credits worth of undergrad courses while doing my coursework,” Dolphin said. “That was a really helpful teaching experience, and I loved getting to know the students.”
Other faculty in the department spotted Dolphin’s unique and caring teaching style early on in his education, and students recognized it, too. One of his students, Wyatt Fox, wrote a spotlight article on Dolphin and his unique teaching style, noting that Dolphin “prioritizes hands-on learning and gives students the opportunity to independently use industry level machinery to create parts and features that are usually only shown and described in textbooks.”
Dolphin was flourishing in the academic community – but wanted to experience industry after graduation, too. So after receiving his undergraduate and master’s degrees, Dolphin worked in an industry environment for two years, further developing his experience in manufacturing.
“While in the industry, I got a good feel for manufacturing and everyday engineering roles,” Dolphin said. “Now, I am able to expand on the career goals of students and how they’ll actually work out in industry.”
Dolphin soon returned to Iowa State to begin his doctoral degree. When looking at other schools in his focus area (fabrication and producing goods through different manufacturing processes), there was one thing about Iowa State that made him sure that ISU was the right choice.
“I remember when I was thinking about getting a Ph.D., I thought about a lot of other top-tier engineering schools along with Iowa State, but I knew I had great support here, and there are great people, so Iowa State was the final decision,” Dolphin said.
Along with manufacturing, Dolphin also studies the scholarship of teaching and learning, bringing to the table ways to become more effective instructors. His passion for teaching, research and service is the perfect fit for a spot at Iowa State University – and Dolphin says that without the support he received from the department, he wouldn’t have known as soon as he did that he had such a strong dedication to teaching.
“The support I had in the department is what got me here today,” Dolphin said. “I started out as a grader for a class, and then I helped with review sessions, and the next thing you know I am here. It was amazing how people saw the potential in me before I saw it in myself.”