Department of Engineering / News / Professor Janet Lees and Dr Jagjit Singh Srai win Student-Led Teaching Awards

Department of Engineering

Professor Janet Lees and Dr Jagjit Singh Srai win Student-Led Teaching Awards

Professor Janet Lees and Dr Jagjit Singh Srai win Student-Led Teaching Awards

Professor Janet Lees and Dr Jagjit Singh Srai win Student-Led Teaching Awards

Congratulations to Janet Lees, Professor of Civil Engineering and Dr Jagjit Singh Srai, Director of Research at the Institute for Manufacturing, who were presented with Cambridge University Students’ Union Student-Led Teaching Awards. 

Our students have been incredibly resilient and engaged during what has been an extremely challenging time. It is brilliant that the Cambridge Students’ Union and our student body champion these awards and further demonstrates that, even when many of our recent experiences have been remote, we are fundamentally connected across our Collegiate University.

Professor Janet Lees

Cambridge students were invited to nominate the lecturers, supervisors and pastoral or support staff who have inspired passion and enhanced their educations at the University. Over 600 students nominated staff members for these awards, which is the most nominations received since the awards started. It's clear from all the nominations that students really want to recognise the hard work that staff put in at Cambridge and the difference they make to students' experiences, particularly under the current difficult circumstances. The nominations ranged from lecturers, supervisors, tutors, chaplains and custodians. Students provided testimonials to illustrate why their nominee deserved to win an award.

Professor Janet Lees won the Cambridge Students’ Union Best Lecturer Award

Isobel Sayer who nominated Professor Lees shared the text of the speech that she made at the award ceremony:

This year has been a uniquely challenging year to be a lecturer. For many the task of bringing tried and tested in-person lectures into the digital world has undeniably been a lot of work and I’m sure as students we all appreciate all the extra work put in by our lecturers this year.

The person who has won this award has gone out of their way to combine the best part of in-person and online lectures. From going to the effort to film their lectures in a real department lecture theatre, to including demonstrations that we could try out at home, they have truly gone above and beyond to make their course incredibly interesting and clear in these strange times.

This person has structured their course in a way that I found so engaging and easy to follow during the challenging Lent term this year. They interspersed their lecture content with experiments done in the department, relevant historical footage from famous figures who pioneered the field and other points of interest and took the time to make a quiz and summary clip for every single lecture to help us review and check our understanding.

I never expected to care as much as I do now about the plastic collapse of reinforced concrete slabs, but this person has really reignited my passion for my subject and I’m so glad that their work is being recognised with this award.

It’s my pleasure to announce that the winner of this year’s student-led teaching award for lecturing is Professor Janet Lees.

Professor Lees said “I was deeply humbled to have won the Cambridge Students’ Union Student-Led Teaching Lecturer Award 2021. The 'live' online Cambridge Students’ Union awards ceremony was terrific and a particular highlight for me was to hear students speaking about their nominations. The strength, positivity and kindness of our students, and so many others in our Collegiate University, was truly moving and inspirational.

"Our students have been incredibly resilient and engaged during what has been an extremely challenging time. It is brilliant that the Cambridge Students’ Union and our student body champion these awards and further demonstrates that, even when many of our recent experiences have been remote, we are fundamentally connected across our Collegiate University."

Dr Jagjit Singh Srai won the Cambridge Students’ Union 'Working in Partnership with Students' Award.

In collaboration with the local Sikh Temple (Gurdwara), students have engaged in feeding the homeless in the city, raising significant funds for charity, and leading religious events whilst many were isolating. University staff and students have become an integral part of the functioning of the local Gurdwara and have formed a close community, supporting each other and also those in need, of whatever background.

Kiran Singh Jolly who nominated Dr Jagjit Singh Srai shared the text of the speech that he made at the award ceremony:

I chose to nominate this person for the Working in Partnership with Students Award as he has continually been a beacon of support to all the students he interacts with. This has been especially true this past year when covid has affected our lives all too much. He's always been very proactive providing pastoral support and is always willing to jump on a phone call or to meet up for a chat if we need anything. Our little network of students who have had the pleasure of getting to know this person have had an especially tough few months and he has not failed to be there for us when any of us needed it.

Whilst being full time academic staff at the university, this person is also very involved in running the local Gurdwara, the Sikh centre of worship, where we were all first introduced to this person. It's through his ongoing support that over the the last few years, the Sikh society and the Gurdwara have been able to run events to give back to the community, such as feeding the homeless and working with schools. He's always keen for us to get involved wherever we can and continually makes the effort to educate us about our history and our culture.

He'll probably tell me after this that I shouldn't have nominated him, but that really is just testament to his humility. He doesn't do these things for recognition, but instead he aims to inspire the next generation and it's for all these reasons that I'm proud to announce that the recipient of the Working in Partnership with Students Award is Dr Jagjit Singh Srai.

Dr Jagjit Singh Srai said "My modest role has been to connect, facilitate and stimulate the wonderful student talent into community action. I am delighted to receive the award from the Sikh students at Cambridge. As in all partnerships, this award is equally attributable to the extraordinary contribution of the students and volunteers themselves, in what has been a very challenging year. During this time, many students had been isolated from friends and family, and it has been a great pleasure to help create a supportive environment for these students here at Cambridge.

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