Dr. Eric Bubar, the founding Associate Professor of Engineering at Marymount University who is well known for using his scientific and 3D-printing talents to support those in need locally and around the world, has been recognized by the Virginia Foundation for Independent Colleges (VFIC) with a H. Hiter Harris Family Award for his dedication to higher education and student success.
He received the 2022 H. Hiter Harris III Excellence in Instructional Technology Award during the VFIC’s Annual Fall Luncheon & Harris Family Awards Presentation on Thursday at Williams Mullen in Richmond, Va. This recognition is bestowed on one faculty nominee per year across all VFIC institutions who has helped incorporate the use of technology through innovative ways in the undergraduate educational experience on their campus. Recipients receive funding to support their research and professional development.
“There’s a reason why Dr. Bubar is so recognizable around campus among our community members – no matter the subject, he has an innate ability to connect with his students and turn complex ideas into understandable knowledge. This has turned him into a classroom and research lab favorite among our Saints,” said Dr. Irma Becerra, President of Marymount University. “He’s always at the cutting edge of the latest scientific trends and discoveries, and blends them into his program curriculum with skill and grace. I’m proud to say that he’s the perfect fit for the Excellence in Instructional Technology Award.”
“It’s a tremendous honor to be recognized for integrating technology into the classroom,” Dr. Bubar said. “The existence of such a program clearly demonstrates the VFIC’s commitment to assuring that students receive instruction in the technologies that will drive the future.”
Dr. Bubar began teaching on Marymount’s campus in 2011, using his background in stellar astrophysics to teach courses in Astronomy, Physics and Physical Science. He now applies his research skills as the first-ever Associate Professor in Marymount’s new Engineering programs, developing open-source solutions for individuals in need of assistive technologies by using microcontrollers, electronics and 3D printing and design. Through this work, he has collaborated with volunteers worldwide through organizations like eNABLE and the Alliance for Project-Based Learning Solutions to create and deploy upper limb assistive devices in situations where medically validated devices are unavailable.
At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Dr. Bubar put his 3D-printing skills to good use in the service of others. With a team of volunteers that included current and former students, he created scores of 3D-printed, reusable face shields for use at hospitals in Washington, D.C., New York and beyond. These provided an added layer of protection for health care workers prior to the supply of standard PPE equipment catching up with the intense demand seen across the nation in 2020.
Through his research lab on Marymount’s campus, Dr. Bubar creates solutions to diverse problems – these range from adapting devices to allow children with limb differences to play musical instruments, to creating tools to aid police officers with rehabilitation exercises. Most recently, he has brought a virtual reality development lab to the University, as he has designed virtual reality STEM-themed escape rooms and has worked with Marymount’s Center for Optimal Aging to create gamified rehabilitation exercise experiences and simulations that allow patients to improve quality of life.
“Technologies that are developed with an open-source ethos, like those in my lab and others worldwide, are making it possible to provide equitable access to assistive tools that are needed around the globe,” Dr. Bubar explained. “A core part of our new Engineering program’s mission is to give the engineers of tomorrow access to digital fabrication technology and provide them with a broad liberal arts training to apply those skills towards the betterment of others. This recognition from the VFIC allows us to expand these opportunities further.”
Dr. Bubar holds Physics degrees from Clemson University (Ph.D. and M.S.) and Appalachian State University (B.S.).
The H. Hiter Harris Family Awards were generously created through endowments by the Harris family. The awards highlight the special features of VFIC colleges and universities by recognizing faculty members “whose professional history reflects a strong, clear and abiding commitment to excellence in classroom teaching within the undergraduate liberal arts and sciences.”
In addition to Dr. Bubar’s award, the VFIC also honored Dr. Michael Wolyniak of Hampden-Sydney College and Dr. Mary Jane Carmichael of Hollins University during the awards presentation with the 2022 Libby and Hiter Harris Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching Award and the 2022 H. Hiter Harris III Rising Star Award, respectively.
This is the second-straight year that a Marymount faculty member has taken home a Harris Family Award from the VFIC. Dr. Cassandra Good, Associate Professor of History at Marymount, received the 2021 H. Hiter Harris III Rising Star Award.