Let’s Celebrate Amazing Teaching: Prof. Matt Borland

Jeff Gulbronson and Jackson Barr - 4N Software & 2T ECE
Posted on: September 23, 2017

Each term, EngSoc recognizes an instructor who has done a combination of employing non-conventional teaching techniques, providing opportunities for experiential learning, and showing commitment and dedication towards ensuring academic success for their students. This summer, we awarded the Engineering Society Teaching Excellence Award to Matt Borland for teaching SYDE 361: Engineering Design. Prof. Borland’s nominations stood out in not just the number of submissions, but also due to how each nomination submission consistently showed how he met all three of the award criteria; a fantastic accomplishment for an instructor.

One of the aspects that stood out the most, was the opportunities Prof. Borland provides for experiential learning. He organized events such as soldering, PCB, and deep learning workshops to provide students with hands-on experience. In fact, one nomination mentioned that “more than ⅔ of the course is spent on hands-on project work”. Another student mentioned he’s “big on getting your hands dirty”.

In addition to experiential learning, Prof. Borland went above and beyond by redesigning the course in order to better ensure academic success for his students. Whether it was through creating custom guides for each PCB board, or ensuring availability outside of class, his passion for teaching is clear. One nomination went so far as to say “… this course has been the highlight of my undergraduate studies so far and I am thoroughly appreciative of all the work that Prof. Borland has put into this course.”

Finally, Prof. Borland employed some unconventional teaching techniques. SYDE 361 is a project-based course about technology and design, centred around building an electronic instrument from scratch. Replacing one of his lectures with a “field trip”, he booked the Theater of the Arts to give students a chance to see four musicians perform and answer questions about their particular instrument. Students were given the chance to interact with experts, which is a great way to help them thoroughly understand the material.

In addition to Prof. Borland, we would like to make honourable mentions to Liang Liang Xie and Mohammed Nassar, both of the ECE department, as runner-ups. It was clear from their nominations that they’re passionate, talented instructors, and we would like to thank them for their work.

We would also like to thank everyone who submitted a nomination. If you’ve had an outstanding instructor that you would like to nominate, keep an eye out for the nomination form each term. Just be sure that the instructors are from the Faculty of Engineering! If you have any questions, feel free to email vpacademic@engsoc.uwaterloo.ca.