Professor Sami Kara recognised at Australian Awards for University Teaching

Professor Sami Kara recognised at Australian Awards for University Teaching

Professor Sami Kara, from the School of Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering, has had his passion and commitment to quality teaching and learning recognised with a Citation for Outstanding Contributions to Student Learning as part of the Australian Awards for University Teaching

An outstanding contribution to student learning

He was among 180 of the nation’s leading university academics and professional staff recognised for their teaching contributions at a reception this month in Sydney. Federal Education Minister Christopher Pyne said he was pleased to be able to recognise the outstanding efforts of dedicated teachers and professional staff in universities. 

Contextualising the learning experience

Prior to his first lecturing role at UNSW in 2000, Professor Kara spent a considerable time working in industry. He believes this ‘real world’ experience gave him a unique lens through which to see and question the way classes were being taught. It provided him with the inspiration to make innovations in the classroom and continuously improve his students’ learning experience.

One result was his transformation of the first year Design for Manufacture into a project-based course, where students take a set of functional specifications and design and build a workable product.

“This was an entirely different model of teaching.” Professor Kara said. “Previously the course was made up of disjointed components and students found it hard to relate what they were studying to real engineering outcomes. This meant they had no framework within which to apply the things they were learning,” he explained.

“The new course structure contextualised the learning experience so students could learn and apply the knowledge components in a more meaningful way.”

Another course transformed by Professor Kara is the Postgraduate Production Planning and Control. “I found it difficult to imagine how students could learn about production planning and control having never set foot in a real factory so I designed a simulation game that enabled students to run their own factory for a period of time. I joke with my students that if their factory makes money they will pass, and if the factory loses money they will fail!”

Professor Kara’s energetic approach and obvious passion for learning and teaching is exemplified by the attitude towards his students. “Without our students, UNSW wouldn’t exist,” he said. “Research is important and informs teaching. However teaching our students is where we can make a real difference through disseminating our research outcomes.”

About Professor Kara

Professor Kara has many strings to his bow. He is Director of Postgraduate Research at the Faculty of Engineering, and a researcher in the School of Mechanical & Manufacturing Engineering, UNSW. He is also the founder and academic-in-charge of the Sustainable Manufacturing & Life Cycle Engineering Research Group at UNSW (LCE@UNSW) and is a member and UNSW Technical Program Leader of the Advanced Manufacturing Cooperative Research Centre (AMCRC). He is also the co-director of Joint German-Australian Research Group on Sustainable Manufacturing