John Smith, recipient of the Distinguished Teacher Award, 1997


John Smith has been teaching physics at the University of Waterloo since 1964. A colleague reports that professor Smith is “equally at home with large and small classes whether they be for senior physics students or the uninitiated in physics. He performs in the classroom and brings his subject matter to life in a way that I've heard described as having students sitting on the edge of their seats.” Professor Smith also teaches analogue electronics by distance education. Students in the Physics 123 class testified that “the purpose of the class is to familiarize the students with different methods of finding numerical solutions to physical problems. Previously the course was regarded as useful but an uninteresting introduction to the use of computers in physics. Professor Smith has brought his enthusiasm and personal experience to the classroom and turned it into an exciting sampling of what may be accomplished when using computers for more modern research.” An on-campus student was so enthused with his teaching style that she signed up for his analogue electronics course by distance education.”Even though the lectures for the course were on audio tapes and not in person, the same teaching skills which made his earlier [on-campus] course so enjoyable could be recognized immediately.” Professor Smith enjoys teaching, is deeply interested in students and has been greatly appreciated by them over the years.”He has the ability to get to the essence of difficult concepts and make them clear.” “He is especially effective at using visual aids to enhance his presentations while insuring that his audience will take away some new information about the subject discussed.”