“I always knew I wanted to teach,” says Mark Edelen, Howard Community College’s “Most Inspiring Faculty Member” for 2013-14. “When you’re teaching you’re investing in people," he says, "and that’s so much more rewarding.” In fact, Mark decided to leave a prestigious doctoral program when he realized that the program was pulling him away from teaching. “I quickly realized that my advisors were more focused on research and writing for publications, rather than instructing in the classroom,” he says.
Mark, who holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in mechanical engineering from the University of Maryland, then began working as an engineer for a defense contractor to gain hands-on experience. After a few years in the field, he decided to get his feet wet by teaching as an adjunct professor at another local community college. “Then the job at HCC popped up and I knew I had to jump at it,” he says.
Four years later and now an associate professor of engineering, Mark is doing what he loves and doing it well. So well, in fact, that he was named this year’s “Most Inspiring Faculty Member” by his peers. He admits that he was surprised to learn he had won the award. “I know there are a lot of great teachers here at HCC...teachers that don’t just teach their class and go home — they really care about what they’re doing. That makes it even more of an honor to be recognized."
Mark credits a big part of his success to the college’s Science and Technology division, which gives him “tremendous support” in more ways than one. “I am constantly encouraged to innovate, flip a classroom, or teach a different way,” he explains. This freedom in the classroom allows Mark’s students to create inventive projects like a self-driving car that can drive around the Quad, a shoe that tracks the height of a jump, or a large scale Ferris wheel made of K’nex.
When he’s not teaching, volunteering for college committees, serving as the advisor for Campus Crusades for Christ (CRU), or helping with the Society of Women’s Engineers, Mark enjoys spending time with his wife and four children. He’s also a big fan of the outdoors, and likes playing soccer, hiking, and mountain biking.
In recognition of being named "Most Inpsiring Faculty Member," Mark was invited to lead the faculty procession at this year’s commencement ceremony.