Professor brings excitement and a passion for teaching both in and outside the classroom

September 09, 2021

Headshot of Jose Riofrio

Jose A. Riofrio, an assistant teaching professor of mechanical engineering, provides a challenging, yet exciting, positive and resourceful learning experience for students. Students praise Riofrio for always being willing to help them any time during the day and never failing to respond to emails, calls or text messages.

"He comes to class every day with a smile and passion for passing on his knowledge for students,” said Emily Strauss ’22. “He is always willing to hop on Zoom to discuss a homework problem or to help work through a difficult design specification. He truly embodies the Quinnipiac spirit of learning and brightens everyone’s day that he interacts with.” 

For his enthusiasm and accessibility for students, Riofrio earned the university’s most prestigious faculty award this year, the Excellence in Teaching award. 

“Right from day one — from the very first class I had with him — I could tell that he was not only extraordinarily skilled at the subjects he taught, but he was also very committed to helping his students reach their full potential,” said Simona Panno ’20. “Professor Riofrio not only cares about his students’ academic excellence, but also truly cares for their personal lives and is extremely accommodating — especially throughout the pandemic.” 

No matter where the class is situated, in-person or online, Riofrio always provides a positive and helpful environment.  

“I think students respond much more positively if they feel positive about something,” Riofrio said. “I feel like when there’s energy, I think they can feed off of that energy and put it to good use. Enthusiasm by itself is not necessarily going to produce good results, but it helps if they can feed off that and get inspired to try harder.”  

Riofrio said he believes in the value of being there for his students. Prioritizing students by making himself available for questions and help is Riofrio’s favorite part of his job.  

“Responding to a student never feels like work,” Riofrio said. “I encourage students to ask questions because when they ask for help, it really means that they’re engaged. When students do poorly and never try to reach out, that's what I think stings the most about teaching.”  

Even during the height of the pandemic, Riofrio managed to successfully keep students engaged in the lessons by asking them to turn their cameras on and have each student participate in class discussions. Students said Riofrio understood the struggles and challenges that they faced during online learning, but found the positives from online classes and utilized them for students’ success.  

“There’s a silver lining and online learning actually had some benefits that you normally don’t have,” Riofrio said. “The idea that now we could record every lesson and post it so the students can have it later I think was actually a positive thing that came out of it because students could sit through and relive the lesson.”  

While Riofrio studied engineering in college, he fell in love with the academic world. As he progressed as a student, he knew he had to go to graduate school to become an engineering professor. As much as he enjoys engineering in the professional world, he loves practicing and teaching engineering through an academic lens.  

“I became very fascinated with the academic world,” Riofrio said. “When I was in college, I was really enjoying what I was learning and I was really enjoying the process of learning. College is a great time of your life and the university setting has something kind of magical about it where people come together and it’s serious, but relaxed at the same time without the corporate feel.” 

Riofrio hopes his students will graduate to become great engineers. His passion for engineering and teaching has resonated with his students. 

“He is no ordinary teacher and he never gave up on any of us,” Anthony Topia ‘22 said. “He actually helped me understand a topic that I could not wrap my head around for months, and he helped me achieve success in his class. Without him, I would not have the motivation to keep on going in my engineering classes.”  

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