Luis Borunda, Ph.D.
Visiting Assistant Professor of Practice in the School of Architecture
Excellence in Teaching Award by the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning at Virginia Tech
The award, presented by the center to approximately nine Virginia Tech faculty members each academic year, recognizes a faculty member's effective, engaged, and dynamic approaches and achievements as an educator.
Among the goals of the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning are advancing experiential learning at Virginia Tech and improving student learning through research-based instructional practices and student-centered design. According to Borunda, his approach to teaching attempts to utilize a variety of teaching methods to provide an inclusive learning environment that supports each student’s individual growth and development: “My general approach to teaching involves utilizing differentiated instruments of education that maximize learning and experimenting freedom, individualized for each student based on their subject, skill, and concept needs. I believe that each student has unique strengths, weaknesses, and learning preferences, and it is my responsibility to design a learning environment that supports their individual growth and development. Overall, my approach to teaching is focused on creating a safe and inclusive learning environment where students are encouraged to take risks, explore new ideas, and develop their own unique perspectives. I believe that by providing students with the tools and support they need to succeed, I can help them achieve their goals and make a positive impact in the world.”
When asked to recall his most memorable and meaningful moment as a teacher, Borunda said, “My most memorable and meaningful experiences as a teacher have been those where I have seen my students grow and succeed, both inside and outside of the classroom. It is incredibly fulfilling to know that I have played a part in their personal and academic development. I particularly enjoy being a part of my students' journeys as they craft their unique visions, find original contributions, and imprint their perspectives on the shape of knowledge. Seeing students sharing their visions and teaching each other is also incredibly rewarding. I believe that this kind of peer-to-peer teaching and learning is critical for fostering collaboration, creativity, and critical thinking skills.”
Saeed Sakhdari, one of Borunda’s former students, explained how Borunda often went above and beyond the call of duty when teaching: "I had the pleasure of learning how to use a Ceramic 3D printer from Luis, and it was a valuable experience. He was patient, thorough, and had a remarkable attention to detail in his teaching. Luis taught me outside of the regular curriculum, which was very generous of him. In addition to this, I also took a research course with him that was super helpful to me. Luis always went above and beyond to ensure that his students understood the material and provided excellent guidance throughout the course. He is a kind and approachable individual who is always willing to help.”
Yasaman Ashjazadeh is another former student, and she described how Borunda’s teaching made a positive difference in her life: “His contagious enthusiasm for teaching has a strong impact on me, motivating me to take an interest in a subject I never thought I would. His energy and passion are contagious, inspiring me to push forward and strive for success.”
Borunda provided the following advice for new college teachers: “Focus on students. My top advice to new teachers is to prioritize student engagement and motivation in the classroom. In order to achieve this, it's important to use diverse and effective teaching tools that are tailored to each student's individual needs. Additionally, creating a positive and inclusive learning environment can enhance student motivation and foster a love for learning that will benefit them beyond the classroom.”