Four of U of T Engineering’s most outstanding educators have been honoured with 2016 Faculty Teaching Awards. Mohamed Abdelfattah (ECE PhD 1T6) received the Teaching Assistant Award, which recognizes TAs who demonstrate excellence in classroom instruction and in the development of course materials. Professor Matthew Mackay (MIE) garnered the Early Career Teaching Award, for exceptional teaching by a faculty member who has taught at U of T for less than six years. Professor Craig Simmons (MIE, IBBME) received the Faculty Teaching Award, for a teacher who demonstrates outstanding classroom instruction and develops innovative teaching methods. Professor Will Cluett (ChemE) garnered the Sustained Excellence in Teaching Award, recognizing a faculty member who has demonstrated excellence in teaching over the course of at least 15 years.
Mohamed Abdelfattah completed his PhD studies in ECE in 2016. As Head Teaching Assistant for ECE 297: Communication and Design, he played a leading role in the redesign of this course into a term-long project in which teams of students compete to find the best possible solution to an open-ended design problem. This resulted in significantly higher student satisfaction, as shown by course evaluations. Abdelfattah himself received a perfect 7/7 score on every one of his teaching evaluations during the two years he taught this course. Abdelfattah also demonstrated an exceptional commitment to mentoring students, and provided training to his fellow TAs to ensure consistently effective mentoring across the course. In addition, he sought to expand students’ horizons beyond their coursework by integrating information on career paths in academia and industry into his teaching. Abdelfattah received an ECE Teaching Award in 2015 and a Teaching Assistants’ Training Program Teaching Excellence Award from U of T in 2016.
While still very early in his career, Matthew Mackay is already a leader in undergraduate education, serving as Associate Chair, Undergraduate Studies for MIE. In this role, he has spearheaded several projects to improve the student experience, including an interdepartmental maker space, twin design and communication curriculum spines, and the modernization of the Mechatronics program. Mackay completely redesigned several of the department’s most difficult and outdated courses, introducing a number of innovations and modernizations. Examples include: custom course readers and binders to replace textbooks and contextualize lectures and labs; a series of custom computer programs which generate practice problems for multiple subjects; a unique 3D printer design project; and optional instruction on practical skills such as soldering and circuit construction/design. His efforts have resulted in significantly higher enrollment and student evaluations for these courses. Mackay received MIE’s Early Career Teaching Award in 2014.
Craig Simmons has led several major efforts to improve the educational experience of our students. As Biomedical Option Chair from 2009-2013, he led a revision of the curriculum in Biomedical Systems Engineering which brought the program on par with the top schools in North America. He also led a successful proposal to establish a NSERC CREATE graduate training program in Microfluidics Applications and Training in Cardiovascular Health (MATCH), and served as its director. Simmons played a key role in the creation of MIE’s Biomedical/Biomechanical stream and helped to create a low -cost microfluidics lab designed for undergraduate teaching. As an instructor, Simmons is constantly seeking to improve his courses. For example, for ‘MIE439: Biomechanics’, he has introduced four new laboratories which use state-of-the-art microfluidic technologies. These labs have been featured in peer reviewed publications. Simmons received the Early Career Teaching Award from both MIE and the Faculty in 2009 and garnered the MIE Teaching Award in 2015.
Over the course of his 30-year career at U of T, Will Cluett has served the Faculty in several leadership roles, making tremendous contributions in each. As Chair, First Year from 1997-2003 he led the development and launch of the Da Vinci Engineering Enrichment Program (DEEP), a unique outreach program directed at gifted high school students. As Vice-Dean, Undergraduate from 1998-2003, Cluett played a key role in the creation and implementation of Engineering Strategies and Practice, the Faculty’s flagship first year design course. As Chair of Engineering Science from 2005-2011, he led the development of a new major in Engineering Mathematics, Statistics and Finance, revamped the design curriculum, and oversaw a significant expansion of summer research opportunities for EngSci students. Cluett also created a new first year Engineering Mathematics and Computation course, which he has taught since 2009. In 2014, he was recognized for his outstanding instruction in his home department with ChemE’s Bill Burgess Teacher of the Year Award for Large Classes.
“These four exceptional teachers have had a transformative impact on engineering education and student experience in our Faculty” said Dean Cristina Amon. “They are an inspiration not just to our students, but to our fellow educators as well. I wholeheartedly congratulate them on this well-deserved recognition.”