Congratulations to Hua Chai for being awarded the Faculty of Engineering Students’ Choice Teaching Award for excellent and in their teaching and inspiring the next generation of engineers as nominated by UNSW Engineering students. It was one of two awards given out.

Hua teaches in the School of Electrical Engineering and Telecommunication as a lab demonstrator and tutor for the courses: ELEC9716, ELEC4611 and ELEC4612. Hua is a Ph.D. student, and his research topic focuses on engineering education in energy systems. As a major goal of his research, a refined curriculum framework for electrical power engineering programs will be designed and developed, which allows the graduates to be highly employable and job-ready in the energy sector. Hua is one of first Engineering Education PhD scholars in UNSW Engineering. The School of Electrical Engineering and Telecommunications is known for creating innovative teaching and learning strategies with many academics winning UNSW teaching excellence awards and AAUT awards. The School has now become the pioneer in introducing Engineering Education PhD programs.

Student’s nomination quote

Hua inspired his students in their career path to being an engineer

‘Through his help, I was able to strengthen my choice to become an engineer.’ Liu
‘I am now more confident to be a woman engineer in power system to apply knowledge that I learnt in this course in my future career.’ Fan
‘Thanks to him I now have a better idea of where I would like to take my career.’ Chandrasekara

What motivates you in your teaching?

Even as a child I was passionate about teaching. I used to have a small blackboard and chalk at home and would act like a teacher and ask my parents to be my students. Then, when I started my undergraduate study in power engineering, I pursued teaching at a university level via mentorship programs and think I am a better teacher than I am an engineer. 

I get a lot of inspiration from my supervisor A/Prof Jayashri Ravishankar, who herself has won the UNSW teaching excellence and the AAUT awards. Her passion to support her students’ learning using innovative ways, has motivated me to undertake my PhD work in Engineering Education, although my MPhil degree is in the core power engineering area. This has enhanced my own passion to contribute to students’ skills development. 

Additionally, being a lab demonstrator in UNSW is an opportunity for me to pursue my passion in teaching and help and mentor students. The most rewarding moment in my teaching is that students are more motivated and confident to master the skills after completing the course.

What is your approach in your teaching?

I think about what students’ need and try to support them in a way which I would personally wished to have been supported in my learning process. In the lab sessions, I show the cohesive nature of the concepts by presenting authentic applications used in electrical power industry. In this way, students can recognize, apply and evaluate what they have learned in a real-world context and gain hands-on skills in demand throughout the experiments. In addition, I encourage the students to align the content with other courses in the curriculum, which is of paramount importance because they can focus their efforts on understanding the same concept in a different way and build their knowledge base as independent learners.