EastBay Today

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Posted August 24, 2020

The Embodiment of 'Brilliance, Ingenuity and Adaptability'

CSUEB assistant professor Fadi Castronovo one of 25 recipients of 2020 Faculty Innovation and Leadership Award

Dr. Fadi Castronovo, Cal State East Bay assistant professor of engineering, knows a thing or two about innovation. His students are regularly spotted on campus, working with virtual reality to evaluate architectural designs, and last summer, many spent time in Italy learning about historical architecture using augmented reality

This year, Castronovo, along with 24 other California State University faculty members across the state, have been recognized with annual Faculty Innovation and Leadership Awards. The annual FILA awards honor those who have ‘demonstrated extraordinary leadership to advance student success, particularly in courses or areas with traditionally low success rates or persistent equity gaps.” 

Fadi Castronovo, assistant professor of engineering began teaching at Cal State East Bay in 2016.
Garvin Tso

“Dr. Castronovo is truly innovative in his teaching methods. He has the intellectual ability, knowledge, professional experience and character to be a star in the department and beyond,” Saeid Motavalli, chair of engineering at CSUEB, said in a statement. 

Since joining the department in 2016, Castronovo has focused his attention on ensuring his students have the technical knowledge and the confidence and interpersonal skills needed to succeed in both the classroom and the construction management industry. 

“This is definitely a crowning jewel of my career thus far and a recognition of my overall efforts to make sure my learning environment, my classroom … is a space that promotes student engagement and quality teaching by implementing innovative methods,” he said of the award. 

Much of Castronovo’s work at Cal State East Bay has focused on hands-on learning leveraging multimedia, video gaming and virtual reality technology. His students have participated in projects such as using tech to turn their 2D designs into a 3D design to use virtual reality to ‘walk through’ to look for mistakes or improvements. 

Castronovo said not only does his style of teaching engage students differently, they are also gaining valuable skills they’ll need after graduation. 

“Having them engaged in hands-on projects is a way for them to gain those skillsets making them more competitive as interns, engineers and managers,” Castronovo said. “It’s also been proven scientifically that an engaged and motivated student is a better learner.” 

This year’s FILA awardees will receive $5,000 each, and an additional $10,000 will be allocated to the faculty members’ academic department in support of ongoing innovation and leadership. 

 “The CSU’s world-class faculty continue to advance bold, creative solutions to enrich student learning, despite the daunting and unprecedented challenges facing higher education,” said CSU Chancellor Timothy P. White. “The awardees have demonstrated brilliance, ingenuity and adaptability, and their steadfast commitment to student success is at the very core of the CSU’s educational mission.”

Castronovo said he would like to thank Dean Jason Singley, Associate Dean Danika LeDuc, Saeid Motavalli, chair of engineering, fellow professor of math Julia Olkin and his partners at Mission College, for their continued support of his efforts in the classroom and beyond.

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