Jay Kappraff, of East Orange, an associate professor in the department of mathematical sciences at NJIT’s College of Science and Liberal Arts, has been selected to receive the award, “Excellence in Innovative Teaching” at NJIT’s University Convocation, an annual celebration to be held Sept. 14, 2011.
Convocation at NJIT traditionally honors select faculty and staff members who have demonstrated the highest level of excellence over a sustained period.
Broadcaster, author and motivational speaker Steve Adubato will speak at the event. A university lecturer, Emmy Award-winning television anchor, and Star-Ledger columnist, Adubato also served in the mid-1980s as New Jersey's youngest state legislator at age 26. Previously, Adubato anchored three PBS broadcasts including Caucus: New Jersey, an Emmy Award-winning public affairs television series.
Kappraff has coordinated a long-standing university lecture series, known as the Forum on Technology and Society. Kappraff is also the author of books about mathematics, design and sciences. Most notable was the award-winning Connections: The Geometric Bridge between Art and Science (McGraw-Hill, 1991) and Beyond: Measure: A Guided Tour through Nature, Myth and Number (World Scientific, 2002).
The first edition of Connections was chosen by the National Association of Publishers (USA) as the best book in "Mathematics, Chemistry, and Astronomy - Professional and Reference" in 1991. It has been a comprehensive reference in design science, bringing together in a single volume material from the areas of proportion in architecture and design, tilings and patterns, polyhedra, and symmetry. The book presents both theory and practice and has more than 750 illustrations. Kappraff has published more than 50 scholarly papers. He recently initiated a program in applied mathematics and communications for seventh-grade students from Newark. (ATTENTION EDITORS: Hi-res photos of the researcher will be taken at the event. To receive a copy and/or set up an interview, call Sheryl Weinstein, 973-596-3436.)
Throughout his 37-year teaching career, Kappraff, say his colleagues, has been an innovator at every turn, not only in his math classes but in his contributions as well to the intellectual and cultural life of the university as a whole. His educational philosophy revolves around his belief that successful teaching is “what the student retains once the details are forgotten.” To this end, he has employed an imaginative series of devices—including Russian dolls, ropes, baseball plays, roller coaster rides and the like—to dramatize for his students the underlying principles of the propositions at hand. He has been a champion of interdisciplinary learning from his early classes taught in conjunction with the School of Architecture that used three-dimensional geometrical constructions to demonstrate the mathematical basis of architectural design to a class last year that taught calculus through architectural structural analysis.
Since 2004, Kappraff has championed another effort: the Forum on Technology and Society, which has produced over 50 events including ten choral and chamber music concerts and public lectures devoted to timely topics such as stem cell research, global warming, nanotechnology and sustainable development. The Forum series is the only regular public program on campus that draws the faculty and students out of their disciplinary shells to reflect on topics of mutual concern. This effort to create a university-wide intellectual community is perhaps Kappraff’s greatest innovation.