NEWS

Dr Ben Hanson and Dr Dominic Furniss receive Provost’s Teaching Awards

9 August 2011

The faculty’s lecturers have scooped two of the three Beginning of Academic Career Provost’s Teaching Awards. These awards recognize that they go above and beyond the curriculum, putting in extra effort to get the best from their students. In the cases of Dr Hanson and Dr Furniss, success came when they applied their subject of study to their teaching.

Dr Dominic Furniss, of UCL Interaction Centre – a joint venture between Computer Science and Psychology – receives his award for teaching his students to interact with their subject matter via digital media. Working closely with Rachel Benedyk, Course Director, he set his MSc students to make a short film using digital storytelling techniques to explain the concept of human-computer interaction.

Not only did this produce some great results, which are currently being used as teaching aids and have been screened at conferences, but the students also learnt communication, teamwork and assessment skills while bonding in the first week of term. This successful program has already been shared around the UCL teaching and learning network.

Feedback is crucial to Dr Ben Hanson, from the Department of Mechanical Engineering, when he is researching Dynamics and Control Engineering – so he applied it to teaching too.

Working with the needs of his students, and in response their comments, he instituted new ways for them to engage with their work outside of class. By taking control of computer simulations, students can see how vibrations and damping affect dynamic mechanical systems, or see how blood flow in the heart is changed by biomedical devices or implants.

He also pioneered UCL Engineering’s adoption of the ReLOAD remote lab system, which allows UCL students to conduct experiments from anywhere in the world using the internet to access and control lab equipment physically located on campus at UCL and at the University of Leeds. This increased their opportunities to engage with practical work – particularly important for overseas students or those with other time commitments. Dr Hanson has published papers on the potential of remote labs and is advising other universities on their best usage.

The two teaching awards received within the Faculty show our dedication to innovative, practical teaching which helps our students to get the best from their courses and themselves. We encourage other staff involved in teaching to think creatively about their methods, and maybe try out the techniques of Drs Hanson and Furniss in their work!

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