Thomas Walker of Newport, Va., associate professor of engineering education in the College Engineering at Virginia Tech, recently received the university's 2009 Edward S. Diggs Teaching Scholars Award.

Sponsored by the Virginia Tech Academy of Teaching Excellence, the Diggs Teaching Scholars Award was established in 1992 and is presented annually to three Virginia Tech faculty members to recognize exceptional contributions to the teaching program and learning environment. A cash award is given to each recipient and their academic department. Diggs Teaching Scholars are invited to lead the Diggs Roundtable -- a series of presentations and a discussion of their innovative teaching -- a year after receiving the award.

The award is supported by an endowed fund from an estate gift by the late Edward S. and Hattie Wilson Diggs. Mr. Diggs was a 1914 graduate of Virginia Tech.

Walker began his career in engineering education in 1984 by direct order, not by choice.

Ordered to report as an instructor of mechanical engineering at the Naval Academy, he says he rapidly realized he had found his niche and soon developed a reputation for integrating technology into the engineering learning space. He co-chaired the academy committee that initiated a personal computer requirement for all midshipmen approximately at the same time the Virginia Tech College of Engineering initiated their personal computer requirement.

Upon leaving the U.S. Navy in 1988, he accepted his current position in the Department of Engineering Education (then known as Engineering Fundamentals) where for 21 years he has championed the use of appropriate educational technologies and pedagogies to empower student learning and respond to a changing world.

Most recently he has been recognized for his innovative use and support for Tablet-convertible PCs and associated applications such as DyKnow.

The working title for his Diggs presentation will be “When Everyday is a Rip Van Winkle Day.”

Walker received his bachelor’s degree from Purdue University and his master’s degree from the Naval Postgraduate School.