Kai James named AIAA 2017 Teacher of the Year


Kai James, left, with AIAA Student Chapter President Joseph Billhart
Kai James, left, with AIAA Student Chapter President Joseph Billhart
Aerospace Engineering at Illinois Assistant Prof. Kai James has received the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) Illinois Chapter’s 2017 Teacher of the Year Award.

A member of Aerospace Engineering at Illinois faculty since Fall 2015, James taught AE 321 Mechanics of Aerospace Structures that semester and in Spring 2017; AE 598 Nonlinear Solid Mechanics Design in Spring 2016; and AE 420 Finite Element Analysis in Fall 2016.

“In and out of the classroom, (James) has proved to be a teacher that cares about his students’ performance and knows his subject matter well,” said AIAA student chapter President Joseph Billhart. “(James) strives to explain the material to students through derivations and examples and supplement that with assignments that challenge the best of his students. He also participates in extra-curricular activities within the AE department to support the students’ efforts.”

Interacting with the students has been a pleasure, James said. “I love teaching at Illinois because we have some of the brightest, most dynamic, and most enterprising students around. They always impress me with their curiosity and creativity, which is evidenced by all the really interesting projects they work on. I probably learn as much from them, as they do from me, so to be recognized by this group is a true honor.”

James earned three degrees from the University of Toronto: a PhD and master’s degree in aerospace engineering in 2012 and 2006, respectively, and a bachelor’s degree in engineering science in 2004. Prior to joining the AE faculty he was a postdoctoral research scientist at Columbia University.