Dr. Cory Prust’s door is always open to his students – and each spring the associate professor of electrical engineering has more than a few treat him with an unexpected visit.

“I will have these moments when they run into my office – just smiling ear to ear–saying ‘It works, its works!’” Prust said.

Spring is Senior Design Project season at MSOE; a time when students who have labored tirelessly since September (or longer) to solve a technical problem or build a prototype are finally seeing their hard work come to fruition. Prust, who serves as project advisor to four or five senior design teams each year, is just as invested in their progress. “It’s exciting to see a student develop technically and grow professionally,” he said. Being able to share in that growth is part of the reason the MSOE alumnus became a teacher.

An Algoma, Wisconsin native, Prust earned a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from MSOE in 2001. He also holds a doctorate in electrical and computer engineering from Purdue, which he pursued because he was interested in teaching and undergraduate education. He has authored a number of papers that have garnered national attention, including one on the use of low cost Software Defined Radios (SDRs) in the classroom.

When he was a student at MSOE, Prust said he experienced firsthand the impact a teacher could have on a student’s life and he knew then that he wanted to teach – but not just anywhere. “I think it’s a core value of MSOE that we are here to serve our students. During my time as a student, a number of faculty at MSOE made an investment in me – an investment that went beyond teaching me the course material and then grading my exam,” he said.

Prust brings unique work experience to his classroom, having spent three years as a technical staff member at the MIT Lincoln Laboratory in Massachusetts. “I had the opportunity to work with a lot of cutting edge technology. Bringing those experiences into the classroom helps students relate the theory to real-world applications and motivates their learning.”

Prust’s main priority is providing students with the education and tools they will need for the next step on their professional journey, whether that’s a career in their chosen field or an advanced degree program.

“In addition to his outstanding work in the classroom, Cory was key in developing the Academic Undergraduate Research Program at MSOE,” said Dr. Richard Kelnhofer, electrical engineering program director. The program allows MSOE undergraduates to meaningfully participate in research and other scholarly activities under the mentorship of an MSOE faculty member. “We’ve had students publish their work and give presentations at national conferences,” Prust said. “It’s a great experience for them and it’s also great for MSOE.”

Prust tries not to give students too much unsolicited advice, but he does offer the following: “I think there is no substitute for hard work,” he said. “If you are willing to put in the hard work, then I think you’ll be rewarded in ways that are meaningful to you.”