UCL Department of Biochemical Engineering


Charnett Chau wins Best PGTA Leadership and Best Overall PGTA Contribution at IEP Teaching Excellence Awards

15 March 2018

Earlier this month, the Integrated Engineering Programme (IEP) hosted its annual PGTA Teaching Excellence Awards at the CATE Celebration Evening. These annual awards are designed to recognise the contribution PGTAs make to teaching, and the student learning experience, on IEP modules. The categories are Best Team Contribution, Best Assessment & Feedback, Best Leadership, Best Student Engagement, and Best Overall PGTA Contribution. Biochemical and Chemical Engineering research student Charnett Chau was not only nominated in all four categories, but was also nominated twice in the Best Team Contribution category - an amazing reflection of her hard work, and impact on her colleagues and IEP students

Charnett won the “Best Leadership” award, as the judging panel felt that her wide range of nominations across all categories epitomised leading by example. “Charnett is an amazing senior postgraduate teaching assistant for ENGS102P. She takes her leadership role very seriously in terms of both management of fellow teaching assistants, as well as guiding and training. She fully deserves this award” enthused one nominator.

The sheer number of nominations and extent of her PGTA contribution this year is what led the committee to give Charnett the “Best Overall PGTA Contribution” award. Comments include: “...she has done fantastic work this year mentoring presentation PGTAs…” and “

Charnett is positive, enthusiastic and always 100% reliable. We have just finished a huge marking session and she has dedicated a lot of time to ensuring she checks all of the student work… She gives every activity her full energy and there is always a smile on her face… her can-do attitude makes her such a joy to work with. Charnett really cares about the learning activities.”

Charnett is a PhD student working with Dean of Engineering Professor Nigel Titchener-Hooker across Biochemical Engineering and Chemical Engineering. Charnett began her undergraduate degree at UCL Biochemical Engineering in 2009, undertaking part of her studies in industry and abroad, comprising a sandwich year working with Eli Lilly in Kinsale in Ireland as well as doing a year in Toronto. Charnett was the third UCL student to take a year at Eli Lilly; current Biochemical MEng student Amandeep Varia taking a year out at Lilley during 18/19, and Biochemical Engineering graduate Georgina Hunter has also just taken up a new role at Lilley.

Charnett has taken on various postgraduate teaching assistant roles for the Integrated Engineering Programme, working with Dr Sunny Bains on technical writing and communications skills, plus marking ethics and law summary reports, as well as assessing presentations. In the three years that Charnett has been a PGTA she’s taken on new responsibilities, going from being a teaching assistant to mentoring new PGTAs in assessment and feedback to helping develop a new system to keep each classroom the same, increasing uniformity for the benefit of students.

“ENG102P classes need in-class PGTAs to ensure continuity across the duration of the module. There are a wide range of lecturers and it’s important to keep consistency and continuity. I was assigned the chemical engineering cohort last year and the biochemical engineering cohort this year. My role ensured quality assurance of the class by assisting the lecturers to improve student experience and answer questions to do with the module and it's assignments overall. I also worked with PGTAs to support the smooth running of the IEP "

“I am also a TA for BENG205P to assist with teaching life cycle assessment (LCA) in lectures and during scenario week. I obtained the role because Dr Brenda Parker (Biochemical Engineering Undergraduate Admissions Tutor) thought I’d be good since my PhD project involves LCA. Because the usual lecturer for LCA was on sabbatical, I took on the role to give the "Intro to LCA” class, it was amazing as I got to revamp the slides and do it my way."

“The students don’t know it yet but communication skills are very important to have! The ability to communicate effectively with a wide variety of people in a range of situations is important because us engineers are never working alone. Getting others to understand you is crucial. The communications skills our students acquire will play a crucial role in their futures careers.” Said Charnett.