Celebrating the Winners of the First Annual Onshape Educator Awards!

Written By: Darren Garnick
  • 6/23/2021
  • Read Time : 3 min
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It’s already been an historic year for the Onshape Education plans, as the first half of 2021 ushered in the one millionth student learning engineering skills with cloud-based CAD (a landmark that keeps going back further in the rear view mirror), and the launch of the international Onshape Design Competition. Completing the trifecta, PTC is proud to announce the recipients of the first annual Onshape Educator Awards!

Over the past year, more than 22,000 educators and their students spent nearly 7 million hours modeling designs in Onshape. During an unprecedented time of academic challenges, the Onshape Education team wanted to recognize the achievements of K-12 teachers, and college professors and instructors, who have continued to motivate and engage their students – regardless of their circumstances.

How do you pick just two “Onshape Educator of the Year” recipients from a pile of more than 220 nominations? It was extremely difficult. How can you quantify immeasurable personality characteristics such as empathy, enthusiasm, creativity and ingenuity? The number of honorable mentions we awarded underscores how much this was an impossible task.

Drumroll please…

Onshape K12 Educator of the Year

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Our Onshape “K12 Educator of the Year” is Joshua Meczywor, better known as Mr. Mez to his students and colleagues.

Mr. Mez is an instructor at McCann Technical School in North Adams, Massachusetts. He received the most nominations from students, former students, and colleagues, with many of them using the adjectives “innovative,” “inspirational,” and “enthusiastic.”

Having taught engineering with various CAD programs for almost a decade, Mr. Mez found Onshape just before the start of the pandemic as he anticipated schools going remote, knowing that his students would need a cloud-based program they could access from home. Within a week, he taught himself Onshape in his spare time, spending late nights and weekends creating online tutorials and projects that would allow his students to easily transition.

Former students credit their careers to his passion for teaching CAD, current students praise him for his concern, dedication, and knowledge, while his McCann colleagues recognize him for his adaptability and leadership.

Here are a few testimonials from students and colleagues who nominated Mr. Mez:

  • “He is the hardest working teacher I know, he truly cares about his students and their interests, and he would do anything in his power to give us the best education. Not only is he a great teacher, but he is also a great person in general, a phenomenal basketball coach, and an amazing person to talk to who has reached out to me in my times of need.”
  • “Mr. Mez would create videos of him using Onshape so that we would get the hang of it. Using these videos at home was very useful seeing as we couldn't communicate that much.”
  • “Mr. Mez's passion for design coupled with the usability of Onshape ensured a seamless transition for our students with remote, hybrid, and in-person learning. We have nearly 80 students creating, making, and excelling every day in our classroom in no small part to the dedication ‘off the clock’ of Mr. Mez.”

Onshape University Educator of the Year

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Our Onshape “University Educator of the Year” is Caroline Koenig, a laboratory instructor at Memorial University of Newfoundland, Canada. In her nominations, Ms. Koenig was consistently lauded for her compassion and empathy, as well as her commitment to ensuring an inclusive and engaging learning experience for all of her students, who joined her CAD classes from around the globe.

Ms. Koenig’s passion for helping her students succeed in her classes and beyond led her to create her own custom Onshape tutorials, find creative ways to make learning fun in a remote environment, and share her experiences and best practices with colleagues at other institutions. As one colleague notes, Caroline has used Onshape to transform her labs to “an online delivery that is not only as good as the in-person format, but better.”

Here are a few testimonials from students and colleagues who nominated Ms.Koenig:

  • “As challenging learning and teaching remotely can be, Caroline put a lot of effort into helping us grasp the key concepts used in CAD. She accompanied the self-taught courses from Onshape with videos recording herself and what best practice methods she’d use to build a model or draw a part.”
  • “The fact that she was always available by email for questions about our models was very helpful as she would reply quickly even on weekends. I became more eager to learn and work on more models as we were going through the semester – and I was even more excited than afraid for my Onshape exam at the end. Because I thought, ‘Wow, it’ll probably be some interesting model I’ve never seen. Can’t wait!’”
  • “In addition to developing an exceptional learning environment for first-year courses, Caroline has also developed a CAD club at the university. This club provides students with the option of pursuing certification in CAD software... Recently, I completed Onshape's Associate certification and was very pleased with Caroline's push towards self-learning and her support throughout the learning process.”

Completing the 2021 Onshape Honor Roll

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As previously mentioned, it was not easy to pick only two recipients out of 200+ phenomenal candidates. So our judges created a few new categories. Here are some more Onshape instructors we are thrilled to recognize and proud to help in their classrooms:

COVID HEROES AWARD – Jason Erdreich, Madison Junior School (New Jersey); and Chris Kaminsky, Lakeshore Fab Lab (Michigan). For their ability to pivot and innovate with Onshape to help the world in a time of crisis.

STEM FOR ALL AWARD – Dr. Jessie Jackson, DuVal High School (Maryland). For coming out of retirement in order to help underrepresented students engage in STEM through Onshape, going above and beyond as a long-term substitute.

BEST ONSHAPE STUDENT COMPETITION AWARD – Kulangara Jacob Johnson, International School of the Hannover Region (Hannover, Germany). For organizing a highly successful global competition to engage students in the design process with Onshape.

CAD FOR A CAUSE AWARD – Rodney Meadth, Providence Engineering Academy (California). For his commitment to helping his students use Onshape to improve the lives of those around them.

MOST INCLUSIVE AWARD – Jeff Hacker, North Delta Secondary School (British Columbia, Canada). For his ability to provide inclusive learning opportunities through Onshape for students with diverse learning styles and needs.

3D PRINTING AWARD – Karen Kutz, Spring Lake Park High School (Minnesota). For her prolific and creative Onshape 3D printing projects for her students.

ONSHAPE MENTOR AWARD – Aadiv Shah, Team R Factor (FIRST Robotics, India). For his work as a passionate engineer helping student robotics teams use Onshape to engage in collaborative design.

INFLUENCER AWARD – Corey Duzan, Lockport Township High School (Illinois). For his continued engagement and enthusiasm online, sharing resources and encouraging fellow educators.

BEST ONSHAPE CURRICULUM AWARD – Jim Hanson, Walker Career Center (Indiana); and Chris Hurd, Cazenovia High School (New York). For their extensive curriculum resources and commitment to design education.

COMMUNITY IMPACT AWARD – Leigh Anne Brewster from the P.K. Yonge Developmental Research School (Florida). For her diverse array of Onshape projects designed to help various groups in her community. 

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Learn more about the Onshape Educator Awards:

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About the Author

Darren Garnick

Darren Garnick is Content Director for Onshape at PTC. He is an Emmy-nominated multimedia journalist, filmmaker and business writer with extensive experience covering technology and innovation for high-tech companies. Darren holds a B.A. in Communication from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. In his spare time, he enjoys hiking, adventure travel, seeing different MLB ballparks, and finding kitschy roadside attractions.