College of Engineering News • Iowa State University

Forty years of dedication, Martha Selby retires with outstanding educator award

Martha Selby sitting down smiling.
Martha Selby recently won the 2022 Michael Ashby Outstanding Materials Educator Award from ASEE. Photo by Ryan Riley/College of Engineering

“Pay attention to the weather.”

This is some simple advice Martha Selby gave to her students during her 40-year career as an Iowa State engineering professor and advisor.

“Pay attention to the weather and go to every class,” Selby said. “A lot of success is just about paying attention and showing up.”

Selby has certainly shown up and made her mark, impacting countless students throughout her time at Iowa State. Retiring this past spring, Selby dedicated her career to teaching, and for many students was the first introduction to engineering and materials science.

“For a long time, I coordinated and taught the first-year engineering course ENG 160,” Selby said. “And before the Department of Materials Science and Engineering hired an advisor, I was also many of these students’ advisors.”

MSE staff and faculty celebrated Martha Selby’s career when she retired after the Spring 2023 semester.

“I wouldn’t be where I am today without her.”

Selby not only taught countless students, she was also deeply involved in serving on college committees, striving to make policies better for her department, the college and university as a whole.

She also strived to be a better educator over the years, working to hone her skills to help students achieve their goals, which she did with outstanding success.

“Martha Selby was instrumental in my development both academically and as a student leader. She was always there to answer my questions regarding Material Advantage, MSE department, policies, class choices, scholarships, study abroad and internship opportunities. She helped me through the toughest personal and academic year of my life with a listening ear and encouraging words – and also ensured I was able to maintain my scholarships once I got back on track,” said Charles Fisher (’09 materials engineering), ICME Technology Expert for the Naval Surface Warfare Center, Carderock Division. “Martha’s intelligence, diligence, proactive nature, and obvious love for students was evident in all her work and I wouldn’t be where I am today without her.”

That dedication to students over her career led to Selby being awarded the 2022 Michael Ashby Outstanding Materials Educator Award by the American Society for Engineering Education. The award recognizes distinguished and exceptional contributions in materials science and engineering education. It is intended to honor an individual with demonstrated notable leadership in the materials education area.

“I was just shocked when I found out I was chosen,” Selby said. “I am very honored. I met Michael Ashby at a conference once, and to me he was truly someone to look up to and the award being named after him makes it all the more special.”