Congratulations 2019-20 Teaching Assistant Award winners: Lap-Tak Chu, Richard Hu, Behzad Khamidehi, Ben Leung and Khalil Sidawi

As we wrap up 2020 we are pleased to announce the winners of the 2019-2020 MIE Teaching Assistant award. Congratulations to this year’s recipients who have inspired, challenged and supported our students: Lap-Tak Chu, Richard Hu, Behzad Khamidehi, Ben Leung and Khalil Sidawi. Winners were selected based on nominations from students in combination with information on the TA Course Evaluations and each of our winners received $500 in recognition of their exceptional work.

Lap-Tak Chu

Lap-Tak Chu joined MIE to work towards his MASc after completing his undergraduate degree at UBC. He was a teaching assistant for MIE250, a second year computer programming course for IndE students, in the Fall 2019 term.

“It’s such a nice and unexpected honour to be receiving this award. I’m proud to have had an impact on my students and it feels good to be recognized,” Chu said.

Chu has always enjoyed teaching and has worked as both a lifeguarding and snowboarding instructor. He focuses on finding commonalities with his students by drawing on his own undergrad experience.

“It’s so important to make sure students know you’re there to help, that you can relate to their struggles and act as a guide to help them find solutions.”

 

Richard Hu

Richard Hu acted as a tutorial TA for a fourth-year design course for MechE and EngSci students as part of their Capstone project. This course ran in Winter 2020 and posed the unique challenge of transitioning the last part of the course online at a moment’s notice when the pandemic hit.

“We were fortunate to be able to complete two-thirds of the course in person and moving online was challenging but we managed,” Hu recalled, “I focused on maintaining a connection with my students through the transition and I always try and adapt and find different methods of communicating.”

A highlight of Hu’s term was watching a student group that was struggling achieve a perfect score on the second part of their project after advising and encouraging them.

Hu took a leave of absence to work with the Huawei Autonomous Driving Group and will be returning to MIE in January where he will continue working toward his MASc under Professor Goldie Nejat.

Behzad Khamidehi

Behzad Khamidehi also faced the challenge of moving MAT234 online in the middle of the semester as the pandemic forced a lockdown in Ontario. It was a huge challenge to prepare the course materials for the online platform, and Khamidehi focused on providing students with as many resources as possible in their new learning environment.

“In addition to lectures and office hours, we began to offer students individual meetings to explain the course content in detail whenever we were asked questions by email,” Khamidehi explained as he recalled increasing the amount of interaction with students.
Khamidehi is especially proud of one student he helped through the course. “She was struggling with the material and seriously considering dropping the course. I was so happy to see she got an A in the course after the final exam. That was a proud moment for me as a TA.”

“Behzad was an amazing TA for this course. His explanation of concepts were always very clear. He was very supportive and greatly aided my learning in this course.” – TA Course Evaluation

Ben Leung

Ben Leung is a passionate teacher who was TA for MIE363, a core IndE course in Resource & Production Modelling, for the third time in the winter of 2020. His third time teaching the course material was very different with the move online partway through the semester.

“It was much harder to read the room, the loss of body language and ability to see my students’ faces could make it difficult to know how well they truly understood the material,” Leung said.

He quickly began to utilize the tools in Blackboard Collaborate to encourage participation and gauge how students were feeling. “I found the polling tool to be really helpful, it’s a low-pressure way for students to indicate how they are feeling and how well they understand their material, this way I knew which concepts needed extra time or a deeper explanation.”

Leung drew on his own experience as an MIE undergrad to develop his teaching style and looked as the pandemic as an opportunity to further develop his skills. “The pandemic forced us to consider new methods and tools for teaching. The tools that worked can be passed on to the next generation of TAs even after we are back to learning in person.”

“Amazing TA! He is passionate, patient, hilarious (including bad jokes), and has an excellent teaching style.” – TA Course Evaluation

Khalil Sidawi

Khalil Sidawi was a TA in both MIE407 and MIE408, MechE courses in the area of thermal sciences, this past academic year and was honoured to be recognized with this award.

“I’m so grateful I was able to make a positive difference in my students’ learning,” Sidawi said.

Sidawi discovered the best way to keep students engaged was to present a problem in the context of an industrial application. Students were better able to tackle a problem and apply what they have learned when they are trying to solve a practical program.

“During my own university education the courses that stood out were the ones where a professor could engage the class when explaining tough concepts,” he said, “I use those same methods that stuck out to me, with my own students.”  When Sidawi is teaching, he focuses on creating a dialogue, asking for student feedback, and encouraging thoughtful questions.

“Khalil is very knowledgeable on the course material and explains concepts clearly and effectively.” – TA Course Evaluation

-Published December 15, 2020 by Lynsey Mellon, lynsey@mie.utoronto.ca


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