The founding director of a busy clinic for hands-on learning at Waterloo Engineering has been honoured as a “trailblazer” by a national engineering organization.

Sanjeev Bedi, a professor of mechanical and mechatronics engineering with a deep belief in the power of experiential education, is the 2022 winner of a Medal of Distinction in Engineering Education awarded at a gala in Toronto this week by Engineers Canada.

Instrumental in the creation of the IDEAs clinic and holder of the NSERC Chair in Immersive Design, he is one of six engineers and engineering students recognized for excellence and work that will have a lasting impact in Canada and the rest of the world.

'The chance to learn by doing'

“Sanjeev Bedi believes that to be a great teacher you need to give students the chance to learn by doing,” Engineers Canada said in a summary on its website. “You need to give them the kind of hands-on opportunities that will build confidence and expand their understanding. Bedi is a passionate educator who has inspired thousands of students throughout his career.”

Nominated by peers and colleagues, the organization said, the six award winners are shaping the world through engineering education, academic research, community involvement, the advancement of women in engineering and the creation of solutions to pressing challenges.

The IDEAs clinic in Engineering 7 hosts two-day Design Days events for all 14 programs at Waterloo Engineering, giving 2,000 students hands-on learning experiences each year.

Meant to augment the co-op program, Design Days give students open-ended problems to solve. To succeed, students must define the problem, then design, build and validate a solution to it.

Award winners are 'leading examples'

Bedi was also recognized for innovation and ingenuity beyond the classroom, including volunteer work that has had a tangible impact in India.

One of his proudest achievements was motivating a team of students to build a computer-controlled machine to help low-income young people in India by producing table legs for sale to support their families.

“These award recipients are leading examples of how engineers work collaboratively to better our world,” Engineers Canada said in a media release. “From incremental improvements to revolutionary new solutions, engineers are at the forefront of innovations that make our lives better, safer, and more productive.”

Main photo: Sanjeev Bedi (centre) works with students in the IDEAs clinic at Waterloo Engineering.