The winner of the 2014 Student Academic Choice Award for Best Teaching for Undergraduates was Professor Omar Matar of the Department of Chemical Engineering.
Professor O. K. Matar (OKM) is an Exxon-Mobil Fellow and Professor of Fluid Mechanics in the Department of Chemical Engineering. He graduated with a degree in chemical engineering from Imperial in 1993, and earned his Ph.D. from Princeton University in 1998. He joined Imperial in September 1998 as a lecturer, and was promoted to Senior Lecturer in 2003, and then to Professor in 2007. OKM was First Year Chairman from 2000-2007, and Admissions Tutor from 2003-2007. He then became Director of Undergraduate Studies between 2007-2013, Chair of the College e-Learning Strategic Committee (2009-present), and Chair of the Engineering Studies (2011-present).
"Winning the SACA is the highlight of my year"
OKM’s current research interests are in the area of multiphase flows with applications in oil-and-gas flow-assurance, crude-oil processing, enhanced oil recovery, process intensification, coating flow technology, and manufacturing. He is the current coordinator of the Fluid Mechanics Focus Area in Chemical Engineering, and the director of the Transient Multiphase Flow consortium , which comprises 14 oil-and-gas operators (inc. BP, Chevron, Petrobras, Statoil, TOTAL), design- and software-houses. OKM is also the director of the £5M EPSRC Programme Grant MEMPHIS , which aims to produce the next-generation predictive tools for multiphase flows, and is Deputy Director of the EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Fluid Dynamics across Scales . OKM has co-authored 140 journal articles and has an h-index of 28. He is the Editor-in-Chief of Multiphase Science and Technology, an Associate Executive Editor of Journal of Engineering Mathematics, and on the Editorial Board of International Journal of Multiphase Flow.
Reaction to winning the SACA for Best Teaching for Undergraduates
"I was absolutely thrilled (and very pleasantly surprised) to have been nominated; winning the SACA is the highlight of my year. The student experience is my number one priority, and this inspires and drives my teaching to respond to the need to train the best students in the world."
What students said about Professor Omar Matar
- "Prof. Matar is the best lecturer in the department, hands down. He has comprehensive lectures slides and notes, and it is obvious that he truly cares about student's learning experience. He is so committed to providing the best possible resources that he recorded a lecture in his own time after forgetting to record the actual lecture that he gave!"
- "He came across as professional yet approachable, and makes the extra effort to ensure his explanations are interesting, highly informative and entertaining, and is always happy to give feedback and help out if anything is not clear. Needless to say, he is adept at describing a complex problem or idea in concise and comprehensible ways."
- "More than just bullet points and worded slides, he goes the extra mile to enhance the learning experience with videos and innovative demonstrations. Whenever necessary, he uses interactive diagrams to break down the understanding of complex pedagogies into a step-wise procedure. He also integrates the advanced elements of our course very smoothly with the fundamentals, making it easy for students to appreciate the wider applications and entire scope of what is covered. All these remarkable elements of his teaching form a potent combination that keeps us interested in the course and always thirsting to learn more."
- "He has painstakingly identified aspects and concepts in the course where people have typically struggled over the years, elucidated and tackled them carefully. This sets him apart from most lecturers who tend to harp on obvious concepts and skim pass the challenging ones."
- "As our academic supervisor for the lab projects, Prof. Matar empowered us to surpass our boundaries in our experimental work with his insightful sharing from both his research and industrial experience. He struck a perfect balance of providing guidance and advice as well as letting us direct our own project methodology. Through our weekly interviews with him, we were always taught something new that value-added to our understanding and application."
- "He is constantly in contact with the 3rd year representatives (he teaches a third year course) to make sure that the students are keeping up with the course and takes any advice/criticism on board immediately."
- "Omar’s greatest strength lies in his ability to deliver complex concept with such clarity that students leave lectures feeling they close to fully understand concepts covered throughout the lecture, and their appropriate applications – quite an achievement considering naturally, most engineering concepts require multiple repeat readings to fully understand them. His presentations are delivered with great clarity in a structured but informal fashion, inviting audience participation, and slides are clear, well laid out and concise."
- "An ability to convey information is nothing without the ability to inspire students and convey genuine enthusiasm for the subject. Fortunately Omar possesses both these abilities in abundance, demonstrating the industrial importance and unintuitive nature of the fluid flow phenomena he considers, in great detail. His notorious involvement in the annual ChemEng talent show goes to show how his enthusiasm for chemical engineering extends beyond the lecture theatre, inspiring student beyond the scope of his own course, and reinforcing the importance of a thriving ChemEng society in university life."