Honour celebrates passion within professor

Paul Mayne//Western News

Western Electrical and Computer Engineering professor Quazi Rahman was recently named one of Ontario’s most outstanding university teachers by the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations. Rahman will receive his teaching award Oct. 21 in Toronto.

Ask about his feelings being in the classroom. Ask about his teaching hundreds of Western’s newest Engineering students. Ask what he thinks of life as a teacher.

Quazi Rahman will respond without hesitation.

“I love it without fail – with all my conviction,” said the Electrical and Computer Engineering professor, recently named one of Ontario’s most outstanding university teachers by the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations (OCUFA). Rahman will receive his award Oct. 21 in Toronto.

Being lauded for his teaching talents is nothing new for Rahman. In his 12 years at Western, he has received 15 awards, including 10 consecutive University Students’ Council Award of Excellence nods along with the Edward G. Pleva Award for Excellence in Teaching, the highest honour for Western faculty.

“The passion that professor Rahman has for the subject matter he teaches is clear,” said Judy Bornais, Chair of OCUFA’s Award Committee. “It’s a passion he ignites in others while providing safe and supportive spaces for his students. His dedication and creativity make him deserving of an OCUFA Teaching Award.”

Initially hired strictly to teach, Rahman has added research to his mix, opening the door for promotion within the faculty and tenure at the university. He is working with colleagues and other professors in the area of power-system grounding, while also doing work in satellite and mobile communications.

Ask anyone familiar with Engineering and they’ll tell you it is the first-year Computer Programming course Rahman teaches that has influenced many students to choose their career path. Students continually refer to him as an “accomplished teacher” and “passionate mentor” who deeply cares for his students’ success.

One former student said, “Once I took his first-year Computer Programming course, I knew I found my passion.” Another wrote, “As I embark on my own teaching career, I have started to draw up on the many positive learning experiences I had with Dr. Rahman.”

An artful and influential teacher who uses multiple tools to enhance student engagement and learning, his passion for teaching is evident in the excitement he gets each time he enters the classroom. And keeping things fresh is not a problem.

“When you’re teaching any IT-based course, you have to refresh it all the time. Things are constantly changing,” Rahman said. “The course I taught 12 years ago wouldn’t make sense today. So, every time I teach, I go back to the drawing board and see what is new. I’m still learning and need to keep it current.

“I’ll admit I’m lagging in some things. Some students will say, ‘I think this is available now,’ and I’ll say, ‘I didn’t know that. Let’s talk about it.’ My students find I don’t know everything – I will tell them that. So, at the same time, we are learning together and moving forward.”

Rahman’s mentorship goes beyond Western. He is the co-director and leader of the SHAD-Western Program, a national educational outreach program designed to attract high school students into science and engineering through summer camps at 13 Canadian university campuses, including Western.

“I love to do what I do. I look forward to teaching every day,” said Rahman, who admitted to getting restless after an eight-month break from the classroom. “Everyone was saying you’ll enjoy the free time. I was like, ‘What?’ I missed it big time. The moment I get to teach I feel different. I’m lucky I have excellent students who think I’m doing a good job. I know I still have my limitations, but they still love me for who I am.”

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AN ARM-LOAD OF HONOURS

Western Electrical and Computer Engineering professor Quazi Rahman has received numerous teaching awards in his 12 years at the university, including:

  • 2017: Edward G. Pleva Award for Excellence in Teaching, Western’s highest teaching honour.
  • 2015-2016: Award of Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching, Western University Student’s Council’s highest teaching honour.
  • 2014-2015: R. Mohan Mathur Award for Excellence in Teaching, the highest teaching honor awarded by Western’s Faculty of Engineering.
  • 2013-2014: Award of Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching, Western University Student’s Council’s highest teaching honour.
  • 2014: Award of Excellence for Outstanding Achievement in Undergraduate Teaching, a province-wide award that recognizes educators who excel at unlocking the potential of Ontario’s university students.
  • 2015: USC Teaching Honor Role, Award of Excellence
  • 2014: USC Teaching Honor Role, Award of Excellence
  • 2013: USC Teaching Honor Role, Award of Excellence.
  • 2012: USC Teaching Honor Role, Award of Excellence.
  • 2011: USC Teaching Honor Role, Award of Excellence.
  • 2010: USC Teaching Honor Role, Award of Excellence.
  • 2009: USC Teaching Honor Role, Award of Excellence.
  • 2008: USC Teaching Honor Role, Award of Excellence.
  • 2007: USC Teaching Honor Role, Award of Excellence.
  • 2006: USC Teaching Honor Role, Award of Excellence.