Stefan Persaud - IDE Lecturer of the Year 2021

News - 28 October 2021 - Communication

At IDE we strive to be at the forefront of design education. And one of the ways we are able to do this, is through the faculty’s passionate education staff who support and guide the Delft design students of today on their path to becoming the designers of tomorrow. One such person is IDE lecturer Stefan Persaud. Having returned to his alma mater in 2018, Stefan has established himself as a versatile, empathetic, and engaging lecturer and member of the IDE community.

Every year the ID Study Association nominates a Lecturer of the Year and this year, as you probably guessed from the title, it was Stefan Persaud. When asked how he felt about the  nomination, he said, “It was a surprise! Of course, it was also an emotional moment receiving this award from the ID Study Association. I felt very happy, as it is an acknowledgement for all IDE teachers.

Designing learning journeys with a student-centred approach

Stefan designs learning journeys for engineering courses with a student-centred approach – with team building, personal development, and inclusiveness being his specialties. He weaves all of this, and more, into his courses by developing curriculums that take the perspective of the student into consideration.

 “A student is not a blank sheet and incorporating opportunities to create connections between the content and the student is what helps to make learning inviting,” Persaud explains. “Keeping some room for discovery during the course is something I learned through emergent teaching and pedagogical tact. Creating a safe and trusting space between students and teachers enhances learning. If you are not feeling safe it is very difficult to take on challenges.”

His style of teaching is reflected in the way his students experience his class. They appreciate that he is open to feedback and constantly looking for methods that fit individual students. While teaching, Stefan uses his pedagogic background to make abstract principles accessible and approachable. His lectures leave students feeling content with a memorable learning experience.

Creating an inclusive learning environment

Persaud believes in inclusive education. Through sharing stories of his own (professional and personal), Stefan has created a space where students can also share their own stories and aspirations.

“I have practiced active listening skills a lot to overcome bias and develop connectiveness. Many aspects of Non-Violent Communication and Appreciative Inquiry are helpful in education,” says Persaud. “In some courses, we start with building trust via connecting exercises like five-minutes check-in, welcoming students at the door, etc.” He notes that it might seem fluffy for engineers, but these kinds of teaching skills not only work but they are also well researched and documented.

A unique time for being a lecturer

Every sector has been rocked by COVID-19 – not least education. So, what is a lecturer to do when they are constantly jumping between digital and in-person learning environments? As an educational designer, Stefan believes that we need to stay up to date, adapting to the environment.

One way he helped students adapt to online education was by giving students time to say hi to each other, talk about their weekends, and listen to some music. By doing this he helped translate the action of entering the lecture hall or studios into an online alternative. This made students more at ease in their new digital environment.

“I have spoken and listened to many students during COVID, working from home or at IDE. Being a full-time teacher allows me to spend plenty of time with my students, during which I listen, ask qssuestions, explain stuff, and build relationships,” Persaud says. The key, Persaud notes, is that being interested and engaged should be genuine. You need to be empathic and to listen without always giving solutions or advice.

The aftermovie of the Product Dynamics course (Sept-Nov 2020) in the second-year of the BSc programme. The goal was to re-use an old Joola TT Buddy, programme a PID controlling programme using Arduino, add a self-designed ball feeding system, and make an interface for controlling Kp, Ki and Kd. This was the last year the course ran and it also took place during the COVID period of distance teaching and hybrid coaching.

On IDE’s renewed BSc programme

The Faculty of Industrial Design Engineering revealed its renewed bachelor’s programme this year. And since Stefan Persaud is a lecturer for a number of the BSc courses - Understanding Product Engineering (UPE), Bachelor Final Project (coordinator), and Manufacturing & Materials to name a few – we wanted to find out how things were going.

“So far our courses are running quite well! Of course, it takes a lot of work developing lectures, workshops, and exams. By working on this together, all of us teachers are really getting a chance to bond and become a team.” says Persaud. “The new BSc programme is a major operation, but I am confident it will be a worthwhile learning journey for teachers and students.”

True to his nature, Stefan and fellow lecturer Bas Flipsen have implemented “Product Failure” (Prof. Manu Kapur) in Understanding Product Engineering. This teaching method aims to support autonomous learning. Stefan and Bas will present their findings at this year’s TU Delft Education Day and write a paper about it for E&PDE 2022.

(As well as teaching within the BSc programme, Stefan also teaches various courses in our MSc programmes and is surprising a number of Master Graduation Projects).

What it is like being part of the IDE community

“IDE in itself is the discovery of design in its broadest sense. Staff (education, research, support, facility) are dedicated, curious, supportive, and the building is a super nice place to be.” says Persaud. “Students are working, making, talking, creating all the time. IDE has a certain energy you feel right when you walk through the door.”

As well as being a lecturer, Stefan has thrown himself into the IDE Community. He has been part of OKIO for two years now, which gives him a good insight on what is happening with education at IDE. The OKIO discusses educational matters and gives advice to the faculty’s Education Board. Alongside OKIO, Stefan is also involved in TU Delft’s Study Climate Program, the CCFO (where students with study delays or student initiatives can apply for funding), and recently he has been asked to join an “education think tank” at the Teaching Academy.

IDE Lecturer of the Year 2021

According to Stefan, being seen, heard, and appreciated is also a big part of education. Besides the hard skills of academia, human skills are also vital when teaching. “Being nice doesn’t mean being soft or lowering the bar, giving autonomy doesn’t mean letting go, understanding doesn’t mean agreeing and learning comes with some frustration of not being able to do something yet.”

Stefan has a unique view on the importance of education because for him teaching is far more than a career, it’s a lifelong journey:

My true mission is making the best education possible for everyone, teachers and students, to be and become lifelong learners. To make their time at IDE a wonderful experience and a starting point for their future career. To ignite new BSc and MSc professionals to do good for the environment and each other in their own way.

TU Delft Education Day

The TU Delft Education Day (4 November) is the event of the year to get inspired by innovative education. This year’s theme of TU Delft Education Day is ‘The Experiment - Shaping Delft Engineering Education’. Experimenting is fundamental to science and engineering and is an inherent part of education at TU Delft. Understanding what works in education and sharing our findings is essential to collaboratively enhance engineering education.

The agenda for Education Day is packed full of great speakers, engaging sessions, and more. We wish Stefan the best of luck during his workshop and in his nomination for TU Delft Lecturer of the Year 2021. You can join the event in-person or virtually, register here.

Stefan Persaud

Present on: Mon-Tue-Wed-Thu-Fri