Waterloo professors honoured for distinguished teaching
Faculty inspire students to learn about everything from organic chemistry to linear algebra and machine dynamics
Faculty inspire students to learn about everything from organic chemistry to linear algebra and machine dynamicsBy Staff Centre for Teaching Excellence
Four professors from three faculties are being honoured for their exceptional teaching with the University’s most prestigious teaching honour - the Distinguished Teacher Award (DTA).
The awards will be presented at the spring convocation ceremonies by Mario Coniglio, associate vice-president, academic. In addition to the citation, the four professors will also receive $1,500 to pursue teaching excellence. The 2017 recipients are:
As current Chair of the Department of Chemistry’s curriculum committee, Mónica Barra has had a lasting influence on students and faculty alike. Barra is highly recognized by past and present students for her enthusiasm, patience, and passion for the course material. One alumnus noted that her lectures were “interactive and stimulating,” and that her lecture notes were “written in such a way that it was easy (and even fun) to follow along.” This, coupled with her expansive knowledge of the course content, is said to have made students “enamoured with her.” Colleagues wrote that “Mónica is a highly dedicated and caring teacher who goes way beyond the call of duty to help students learn and succeed.” This is evident in her work as Chair, as one lecturer highlighted that her leadership has reduced “the excessive workload that students faced in the third year of the program,” which will “benefit students for generations to come.” Barra has been a recipient of numerous awards and distinctions, including the ChemClub Periodic Table of Teaching Excellence Award, an award presented annually by undergraduate students, and the Excellence in Science Teaching Award.
Mechanical and Mechatronics Engineering
Sanjeev Bedi, founder of the Engineering Ideas Clinic, is well known for his energy, mentorship, and connection to students. From undergraduates to fellow colleagues, members of the University of Waterloo community have acknowledged Bedi for his “showmanship” and “ability to empower students to innovate.” One undergraduate student described him as “ever engaging, full of humour, good cheer and patience, and effective at conveying complex topics to a bunch of ambitious (and challenging!) young men and women.” Students at all academic levels view his teaching as exceptional. One alumnus noted that “he was a model mechatronics engineer for (them).” Faculty members also took note of “his long track record of exceptional teaching.” One lecturer commented that he inspires his students “to go forth and make an impact on the world.” Other colleagues added that he “loves his students” and his “impact on the Faculty of Engineering is far-reaching, positively impacting the development of students, teaching assistants, and instructors, alike.” Bedi’s past accolades for his teaching include the Outstanding Waterloo Faculty of Engineering Teaching Performance Award.
Electrical and Computer Engineering
Dan Davison, former Associate Chair for undergraduate studies in the department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, is highly recognized as humble, approachable, and influential. Many speak fondly of Davison as “a strong lecturer, mentor, and teacher” who “always keeps the students attentive and encourages (them) to ask more questions.” One alumnus explained that “he was one of the reasons that (he) decided to pursue graduate studies in the field of control systems.” Another colleague commented that he achieves this exceptional record for teaching excellence “by setting the bar high and helping students reach it.” This is made evident in his support from his students, as one wrote that “he encourages (the students) to think through the material as it is taught in lectures, helping (them) build an intuitive and practical understanding of the concepts as opposed to just textbook formulae.” Another student added that “he is an asset to the Department, the Faculty, and the University. I cannot think of a professor who has inspired me more in my academic and professional life.” Davison’s past accolades for his teaching include the Sandford Fleming Foundation Teaching Excellence Award.
As the Associate Chair for undergraduate affairs in the Department of Pure Mathematics, David McKinnon has a strong rapport with his students and colleagues through his dedication, enthusiasm, and consistency. When it comes to his work in the classroom, students say that McKinnon goes “above and beyond,” and makes them “genuinely excited to come to class every day.” Students find his lectures thoughtfully prepared and well organized, and remark that “he readily accepts questions, and pauses during lectures to make sure that everyone understands what is being taught.” One former student commented that they define an excellent teacher as one who is “armed with a sense of humour,” and says that McKinnon exemplifies this characteristic. One colleague added that McKinnon “has a sense of humour which the students enjoy and works hard to actively engage students in his classes.” McKinnon has been a recipient of a number of teaching awards, including the Faculty of Mathematics Award for Distinction in Teaching and the Mathematics Student Society’s Instructor of the Year Award.