My teaching philosophy is that passion, courage, dedication and empathy are the core values that should always pervade my work in education. This vision is grounded in peer observations, formal training, and life-long interactions with inspiring professors around the world.
I started teaching food engineering classes using an empirical approach mostly based on intuition. I did so because when I started teaching I had limited pedagogy training, but I knew how to learn something for myself -particularly if it was pure technical knowledge. Like many other new engineering teachers, I wasn’t quite prepared to help others learn, which is a much bigger challenge than self-learning. It entails not only a direct responsibility to the students, but collectively with the world in which they will perform. While having to teach on average 4 different courses per year in addition to my other academic and family duties, I haven’t been able to get the type of formal training I desire for teaching. Nonetheless, I’ve been experimenting with different approaches in the classroom and I can proudly say that I’ve been evolving and developing new pedagogical skills every semester. Fortunately, I’ve been able to experience three different education systems where I’ve been exposed to diverse teaching and mentoring practices. I started crafting my own approach by thinking about the teachers I had in college-including those I admire and those whose style did not resonate with me. I have spent 3 years attempting to make specific connections between these different teaching styles in an effort to understand how the overall experience affected my own teaching and learning. I thought of a number of different characteristics that led to positive learning outcomes, but I’d like to focus on the four attributes that I consider paramount from an epistemological perspective:
Passion: A unifying quality for the inspiring teachers I have met is that they are simply eager to sharetheir ideas with the audience. Beyond being very knowledgeable about their areas of expertise, they are also exceptionally passionate. Some are inspired by specific topics; I particularly recall a former teacher with an enormous enthusiasm for thermal processes, so contagious that years later I still think of him every time I hear the word “lethality”. Some had passion for life in general; I constantly remember a former professor whose dark jokes always made me think of wacky relationships between nanotechnology and food security, climate change, mental illnesses, extraterrestrial life, gender issues, poverty, to list a few.
Courage: Excellent teachers are brave; able to recognize their own limitations and even the limitation of their knowledge of the field in front of the students, almost in a provocative way, inviting criticism while steering discussion. There is a clear intent of leaving the audience with the message that building knowledge is an endless process, and no matter what age or state in life, one could (and should) always learn a little more.
Tenacity and dedication: The best teachers are always working really hard; it seems like they are never completely satisfied with their work and they are constantly trying to improve it; not because they are perfectionists but because they are truly committed to giving their best to the students. Consistent dedication to updating content, trying new tools and methods, learning about students’ interest and talents, customizing assignments, making an effort to call students by name, coming up with new jokes to keep them engaged in class, and figuring out ways to promote critical thinking amongst unmotivated students.
Empathy: This is in my opinion the most powerful and sophisticated professional way of being. I am convinced of the importance of embracing individuality and diversity in both the engineering education and the engineering practice. For me it’s not only about being able to establish rapport with the students and help them make the best out of each class, but also about showing them how to assertively engage and communicate with peers, professionals from other disciplines, stakeholders, and communities, in order to achieve a holistic understanding of the problems and deliver appropriate engineering solutions.
My education process was enriched by the professors that showed me these four values; my wish is to honor the legacy of the wonderful teachers I’ve had the fortune to know, by being passionate, brave, very dedicated, and empathetic, with the hope that I will transcend as positive and long-lasting impacts on my students and society.
My teaching goals are to inspire students to:
I.Develop forward thinking skills by integrating engineering knowledge to address technology needs faced by socioeconomically challenged communities.
II.Promote awareness and empathy to future generations of regarding poverty and its relationship with food, water and environmental dynamics.
I disagree with the concept of of measuring the quality of education by exclusively placing the target on the workplace. I think it's important to also consider civic and ethical formation processes, which ultimately create a bigger impact on society as a whole. In that sense, I always make an effort to help my students reflect on the real world applications of each topic of study, and promote awareness on the social and environmental implications of their engineering work. I believe this practice helps the majority of students get the motivation to master knowledge and excel in class.
Food Process Design
Mass and Energy Balances
Nanotechnology and Biosensors for Food and Agricultural Applications
Functional Ingredients and Foods