Imperial College London

Graduate Teaching Assistant commended with Faculty Award


Yuanbo with Dr Eric Kerrigan

Yuanbo with Dr Eric Kerrigan

Yuanbo Nie has been awarded with the Departmental Graduate Teaching Assistant of the Year prize by the Faculty of Engineering.

Aeronautics' nominee Yuanbo was presented with the Highly Commended prize at the Faculty of Engineering's GTA of the Year ceremony.

The awards recognise the integral role GTAs play within the Faculty. Yuanbo was nominated by the Department for his recommendations to change aspects to the MEng in Aeronautical Engineering course.

Dr Eric Kerrigan, Yuanbo’s supervisor, praised him for “always being enthusiastic, pro-active and full of great ideas on how to make the learning experience fun and rewarding.”


Yuanbo has been a Graduate Teaching Assistant for three years: “In the first year, I just did what my professors gave me to do, and what has always been traditionally done. The role typically involves Lab demonstrations and report marking.”

After a while, Yuando started to realise things could be improved. “Students weren’t always engaging with tasks in the lab. As working in the lab is quite an extended part of the MEng course, this was a problem.”

"Students learn all the theories in the lectures, and they figure out how to handle challenging exam-style questions, but when it comes to really practical things and real-world application in the labs, there are a lot more considerations that aren’t covered in lectures.”

Eventually, Yuanbo talked with professors to ask if changes could be made: “In essence, we’ve been encouraging a more interactive learning experience in labs, to help students understand the differences between the bigger picture in terms of computer-simulated design and then the small details and practicalities in the lab.”


“Receiving the award is great because it reflects my way of thinking throughout the years about teaching. I’m grateful for all the support I get to try and implement some of my changes. It pays off for me, but also for the student, who can graduate with a much deeper level of knowledge and confidence when they approach real-world tasks. That’s the ultimate goal.”

“For the award, I would like to thank the lab supervisors, my fellow lab demonstrators and the Departmental leaders who helped with the nomination process.”

Speaking about the role of Graduate Teaching Assistant: “It’s great if you’re passionate about teaching, and if you're someone who is willing to interact with students and to feel fulfilment in seeing them progress with your help; it’s a really rewarding job.”

Find out more about Graduate Teaching Assistants on the Graduate School site.




Tom Creese

Tom Creese
Department of Aeronautics


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