Students recognize instructors and TAs for their valuable contributions


Western Engineering News | April 6, 2018

Each year, Western’s Chemical Engineering Club conducts student surveys for the Best Course Instructor and the Best Graduate Teaching Assistant Awards, as voted by Chemical and Biochemical Engineering (CBE) undergraduate students in 2nd, 3rd and 4th year.

The Best Course Instructor Award, also referred to as the Maurice Bergougnou CBE Teaching Excellence Award, was initiated in 2010 by Ajay Ray, Professor and Chair in the Department of Chemical and Biochemical Engineering. Dr. Maurice Bergougnou, Professor Emeritus of Chemical Engineering, joined Western in 1967. Bergougnou, who passed away in November 2015, was recognized by his students for his inspirational teaching and received many awards throughout his career for the passion and care he showed his students.

For the 2017-18 academic year, the award winners are:

Year 2 Best Course Instructor: Dr. Jose Herrera for CBE 2207 Organic Chemistry II
Year 2 Best Teaching Assistant: Anna Kornmuller for CBE 2221 Fluid Flow

Year 3 Best Course Instructor: Dr. Dominic Pjontek for CBE 3322 Heat Transfer Operations
Year 3 Best Teaching Assistant: Nicolas Torres Brauer for CBE 3315 Reaction Engineering

Year 4 Best Course Instructor: Dr. Jose Herrera for CBE 4417 Catalytic Processes
Year 4 Best Teaching Assistant: Erica Glatt for GPE 4407 Capstone Design Project

This year, all CBE undergraduate students presented a special award to Souheil Afara to recognize his exceptional contributions as laboratory instructor.

Dr. Jose Herrera, voted this year’s Best Course Instructor for Year 2 and 4, is no stranger to the Maurice Bergougnou CBE Teaching Excellence Award. Herrera has received the student-given award each year since 2010, with the exception of 2016, when he was on sabbatical.

Herrera continues to receive praise from his students for his passion, high expectations and engaging lectures. The following are just a couple examples of the positive feedback Herrera has received from his students:

“The course is challenging, but a very good learning experience and very interesting. You can clearly tell Dr. Herrera cares about what he teaches and that his students learn it.”

“Through challenging examples and ensuring students are caught up with course material, his lectures are engaging and extremely efficient. He holds high expectations for our class, but he genuinely cares. It makes for a more positive learning environment when the professor is passionate about what they teach and extends it onwards.”

Dr. Dominic Pjontek, winner of Year 3 Best Course Instructor for CBE 3322 Heat Transfer Operations, is also a repeat recipient of the Best Course Instructor award. Pjontek joined Western Engineering in 2014, and has received the award the last three years in a row. 

Pjontek noted that fourth-year students often tell him how the open-ended design project in his Heat Transfer course helped their understanding of the course's fundamental concepts.

"These awards encourage me to continuously attempt to improve the delivery of the course content," said Pjontek. 

Anna Kornmuller, BESc’15, who is currently working towards her PhD in Biomedical Engineering, was this year’s recipient of the Year 2 Best Teaching Assistant for CBE 2221 Fluid Flow. When teaching tutorials, Kornmuller incorporates problems that teach fundamentals and represent concepts that will be on students’ exams.

“Receiving the award this year is extremely exciting,” said Kornmuller. “I do my best to support and prepare the students throughout the semester, and I am ecstatic to be recognized for my effort.”

Congratulations to this year’s award recipients for being recognized by students for their valuable contributions to the Western Engineering student learning experience.