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A3 names inaugural Educator of the Year award

April 16, 2024
Central Virginia Community College professor Danny Murphy recognized for his innovative teaching methods and industry collaborations

The Association for Advancing Automation (A3) named Danny Murphy, an assistant professor of mechatronics at Central Virginia Community College (CVCC), the recipient of its inaugural Educator of the Year award. With more than 100 nominees for this annual award, A3 said that Murphy stood out with his innovative teaching methods that depict real-world, hands-on and relevant education and his active industry collaborations that keep his curriculum up to date with trends in artificial intelligence, robotics and safety in advanced manufacturing.

Sponsored by Siemens and open to anyone in the field, A3’s new Educator of the Year award was created to recognize individuals that embody four key criteria: innovation, dedication to growth, motivation and inspiration, and mastery of subject matter. This year’s winner and finalists were chosen by members of the A3 Education Committee and will be honored at a special event on Educator Day on May 8 at Automate 2024 in Chicago.

“As we reviewed the impressive nominees, Danny truly stood out as an outstanding embodiment of all four criteria we established to honor an Educator of the Year,” said Ritch Ramey, director of education, A3. “Not only is he a highly effective, engaging educator for students at Central Virginia Community College, but he consistently demonstrates a remarkable willingness to share his expertise in robotics and automation with fellow educators. His extensive background in workforce development and project-based learning further enhances his contributions to the field.”

Murphy serves as an associate professor for CVCC, where he teaches programmable logic controller (PLC) programming, robotics, machines, electronics, industrial electrical wiring and STEM principles in engineering. He is an automation consultant with 25 years of experience in controls engineering, and he has contributed to the development of more than 75 pieces of production machinery, including positioning controls for ALMA Observatory, the largest astronomical project on Earth. He is the recipient of several other teaching awards, including the 2023 Learning Environment Award and 2022 Faculty Award for Teaching Effectiveness, both from CVCC, and is a National Science Foundation partner. He also runs multiple organizations that mentor local and international students in their search for education and employment.

As the winner of the A3 Educator of the Year, Murphy and CVCC will receive a cash prize from the Siemens Cooperates with Education (SCE) program, as well as a hardware and software technology bundle to expand Murphy’s efforts to provide students with practical technical skills. The SCE program will also award Murphy and the top five educators nominated with a technology bundle of Siemens software valued at more than $250,000 each to promote automation in education and continue elevating the skills of tomorrow’s workforce in the U.S.

“Siemens is very excited to support this first of many Educator of the Year awards recognizing the energy and expertise of so many talented educators across the country,” said Amanda Beaton, U.S. program manager for SCE. “It is a pleasure to work with teachers like Danny and all the wonderful nominees who are truly game changers in the area of STEM education. Danny’s real-world experience, industry-relevant, hands-on teaching style, and passion for education demonstrate the perfect example of what is needed to produce a work-ready student.”

Educators and automation industry experts can learn about the latest in automation education during Automate 2024 Educator Day on May 8, from 9:45 a.m. to 5 p.m. Central Time. They can also network with industry leaders and representatives from national workforce organizations, robotic contests and educational training companies and participate in hands-on demonstrations with solutions from the world’s top robotic and automation companies. Deadline for educators to reserve a spot is April 26.

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