Alter Wins NADL Educator Award
Daniel Alter, MSc, MDT, CDT, uses the word privilege frequently when describing his role as an educator in the dental technology field. He says it is a privilege to teach his students at New York City College of Technology (NYCCT), to lecture at conferences around the country, and to consult with other colleges about their programs.
This dedication to the betterment of the industry led the National Association of Dental Laboratories (NADL) to award Alter as its Educator of the Year at the 2016 NADL Vision 21 Meeting in Las Vegas in January, making him the second professor from NYCCT to earn the award in the past three years.
“I am very passionate about our profession and specifically the value of the dental technician within our profession,” Alter says. “One of our most valuable assets is dental intelligence: being well-versed and understanding the biomechanics of the oral environment and how it functions, and how form follows function. As attrition and different paradigm shifts occur within the industry, maintaining that dental intelligence is important.
“I appreciate the privilege of ensuring that in future dental technicians at our college and in other educational forums, so being recognized for that fills my heart with warmth.”
One of Alter’s colleagues at NYCCT’s Department of Restorative Dentistry, Renata Budny, MBA, CDT, MDT, was the 2014 recipient of the award.
“Their program as a whole places a tremendous value on innovation,” says Bennett Napier, MS, CAE, Executive Director of the NADL. “Daniel invested a lot of time and energy integrating CAD/CAM into the school environment. The hope is for all schools to follow that model because it certainly benefits the students, and it benefits the employers who hire those students.”
Alter played an instrumental part in making NYCCT the first accredited dental technology program in the US to offer its students the use of CAD/CAM technology in the classroom. He has since consulted with other schools about doing the same.
In addition to lecturing at trade shows, Alter also attends educational sessions to further his own learning, and he considers himself a “lifelong learner.” Alter also is an active member of Inside Dental Technology’s Editorial Advisory Board, and he authored IDT’s January cover story about obstructive sleep apnea and the opportunity it presents for dental laboratories.
“I am a big believer in continuing the learning process so we can digest it and remain relevant and be able to go ahead and impart that knowledge with students and industry members alike,” Alter says.
Budny also lectures outside the college and is an active member of IDT’s Editorial Advisory Board.
“The insight that we gain working with dental laboratory industry movers and shakers not only gets fed back to the classroom, but it also provides the opportunities for our students to see that one day they will become leaders in our industry,” she says.
Budny adds that it is not a coincidence that two NYCCT professors have won this award in a span of three years.
“It demonstrates that our higher learning institution is committed to providing opportunities and educational infrastructure that enable our faculty to be lifelong learners,” Budny says, “transferring the knowledge into teaching so that students can thrive and be better prepared for a constantly changing profession and the opportunities that lay ahead.”
Napier says Alter’s commitment to share his curriculum model with other schools was a significant factor in receiving the 2016 award. Like other NADL awards, it is based on peer nomination and awarded based on a formal objective scoring process that covers several criteria.
“Daniel does not limit himself to projects that benefit his own program,” Napier says.
Alter says that whether he is teaching at NYCCT, lecturing at a tradeshow, or consulting with other colleges, his goal is the same.
“It is all for the good of the industry — to keep and maintain the standards that it deserves,” Alter says. “Whether working for my school or any other opportunity, as long as our profession is strong and solid through education, that is my motivation. It is a true honor to be able to serve our profession and be a part of moving our industry forward with professionalism, knowledge, and education.”