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ECE PhD candidate Samer Henry is the recipient of the Course Instructor Teaching Excellence Award, conferred to only one graduate student across the University of Toronto. (Photo: Neda Demiri)

Samer Henry (ECE PhD candidate) has won the 2019 Course Instructor (CI) Teaching Excellence Award from U of T’s Teaching Assistant Training Program (TATP).

This award is conferred to only one graduate student across the University who demonstrates educational leadership, meaningful contributions to course curriculum development and impact on student learning.

“I try to focus on creating an enjoyable learning experience which helps students feel comfortable and open to trying without the fear of failure,” says Henry. “I prepare questions that will stimulate discussion, so that each student feels compelled to participate — when everyone speaks, that’s a win because that means I got them excited about the material they’re learning. This is what helps them arrive at the solutions themselves, which is the best part.”

The CI Teaching Excellence Award was launched in 2015 as the first-ever award specifically for graduate student course instructors. The award recognizes one graduate student for their outstanding work as a sole-responsibility Course Instructor.

Henry has taught APS106: Fundamentals of Computer Programming. He has also tutored and helped lecture in ECE244: Programming Fundamentals, and taught labs in ECE243: Computer Organization and ECE297: Software Design and Communication.

“I try to tie what I am teaching to practical applications: for example, applying artificial intelligence to industry challenges,” says Henry. “Showing students what they can achieve by grasping the material taught in class is a great way to spark interest in it.”

Supervised by Professor Elvino Sousa (ECE), Henry’s research focuses on designing reconfigurable antenna structures on arbitrary surfaces in 5G systems. In addition to his teaching and research, Henry is also a Senior Don at St. Michael’s College where he has learned skills in mentorship that he applies in the courses he teaches.

“Everyone has this hidden potential in them,” says Henry. “And my hope is to recognize the talent in every student so that they feel empowered to not only excel in academics, but that they also excel in industry and beyond.”

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