TU/e Best Teacher Awards

Teachers are not always in the spotlight, but good teachers are crucial for education and students. During our annual TU/e Best Teacher Awards we put our heroes in the spotlight. 

This year, seven teachers have been nominated for the Best Teacher Awards. All nominees will be judged by members of the Student Advisory Body on commitment, theory of education, innovation, interaction, passion and professionalization.   
During MomenTUm on September 30, 2022 the Best Bachelor Teacher and the Best Master Teacher will be announced. The Best Teacher Awards include a personal prize of EUR 10,000 for the winners. 

We proudly present our nominees: 

Hjalmar Mulders


Students really notice Hjalmar’s interest in the subjects he is teaching. According to Hjalmar, it is important to have fun with the subjects taught. Instead of having static lectures, he tries to get the students excited about the physics covered in lectures by demonstrating it through very simple but helpful experiments.

He also has another very ingenious philosophy about coffee breaks. He thinks that is the time to guide students to bond together. This results in recharging the students better for the next part of the lecture. Moreover, it helps students meet each other and work together on the exercises in the course.  
Sometimes Hjalmar brings out his guitar, as in March 2020. The now third-year students still know and talk about the time Hjalmar played his guitar during the lecture break, that helped bring light to uncertain times. 

Physics is often seen as a difficult to grasp and boring subject, but Hjalmar brings excitement to the classroom! 

Anna Wieczorek


Anna does not only focus on sustainable developments in our local environment, but also discusses these developments in a global context. She especially teaches how sustainable technologies should be managed. As such, her courses form the basis for the whole program of Sustainable Innovation and its master. 

When Anna has discussions with students, these students have the feeling that they are taken seriously. She also helps them feeling at ease. One example of this is a conversation that Anna had with one student that was scared of doing a presentation. She said: “Do you think that as a teacher, we find this any less scary?” 

Anna is a very innovative teacher and does not follow the “basic teaching strategy” with monologues and tutorials. She is very flexible in redesigning her courses, her courses depend in form on the number of students and their capabilities. She has various ways of teaching, and choses the one that best fits the kind of students she has in front of her. Anna uses online open book exams that tests knowledge on a higher level. It’s not about reproduction of knowledge but rather application and critical thinking.  

Anna is known for knowing all her students personally. She also treats them as peers in the discussions.

Jim Portegies


Where previously a more classical method was used for Analysis 1 & 2, often relying on a relatively old book, Jim has taken the liberty of writing his own lecture notes from scratch. In these notes, Jim approaches Analysis from the perspective of a first-year student. He spends a lot of time and effort in making sure students feel confident in knowing the basics, before diving into more difficult mathematical problems.  

Jim taught the Analysis 1 course at a time when it was very uncertain whether teaching could continue on campus or whether it would have to move back online. When teaching did indeed move to an online setting, Jim made sure that time was also set aside to discuss with students how they were doing from a wellness perspective. For students who did not pass the course Analysis 1 for the first time, he organised evening sessions where students could go to ask questions and prepare for the resit together. 

Jim is a fan of interacting with students and making sure they are doing well. He knew the names of all the students present on campus and named them whenever they had a question during the lecture. In this way, the students got the feeling that they were real persons and not just numbers.

Jim always tries to put himself in the shoes of the students. Jim acknowledges the obstacles that the course presents and takes away stress and pressure by doing so.

Lambèr Royakkers


The research and courses of Lambèr are related to the growing need to incorporate ethics into ICT and robots. He stimulates critical thinking and provides enough time in his courses for an open debate on how to safeguard ethical values in robotics and digital technology. Lambèr tells interesting and intriguing stories related to the courses he gives. The stories are closely related to students’ lives and he uses his experience to give new insights in the topic. 

Because Lambèr uses peer feedback, he is more a mediator than a teacher during the tutor hours. This stimulates that students learn from each other. Still Lambèr is always there to stimulate the discussion and give feedback on the content of the discussion, but also to give feedback on the learning and peer feedback process. And last but not least: exams are always checked in two days. Every exam! 

Lambèr stimulates critical thinking and an open debate.  

Sandra Loerakker


When Sandra heard about her nomination, she immediately sent a message to her students thanking them for their appreciation of her work and effort. That characterizes her.  
Sandra tries to work with the feedback of her students and continuously tries to implement small changes to her lectures to help solve the problems that students encounter. Even though the course content can be quite difficult to understand and quite abstract, Sandra does her best to try and help students visualize the concepts that they are trying to study. When she does this her passion and interest in the subject is clear to see for all.  

Sandra ensures that students feel welcome to approach her for questions whether they are really good, quite poor, extremely motivated or a bit behind in her course. 

Every student feels like they are being helped, regardless of their skill level. 

Dirk Fahland


Dirk cares about every student who approaches him with a question or concern. Whatever that question may be, related to the course, personal struggles, planning studies, regardless of the moment he tries his best to respond (during a lecture, after a lecture, in the hallway, via chat late in the evening). There are no "stupid" questions for him. He loves critical students and enjoys it when he is being challenged by students who for example find a mistake in his examples.

During COVID and online teaching, Dirk was very worried about the wellbeing of the students in his Advanced Process Mining course. In 2020, they had a Song Advent Calendar and played a random Christmas/Season song suggested by the students (anonymously). There were some true gems in there and many students looked forward to it.  

Dirk is not shy of trying out new tools and didactic ideas. In the last two years, he completely dropped lecture slides. He uses Perusall - social reading software where students together read a text online, can mark and comment passages and discuss their questions. Based on the comments and questions, he designs custom class sessions.  

Max Birk


Max’ approach is refreshing, because his work redefines the role between student and teacher. While his expertise and experience are present, he does not claim or demand expert status.

Max emphasizes the need for honest communication in science, and research as a process and not as the perfect outcome. This setup seems to be helpful for students to challenge themselves, stay engaged, and feel encouraged to try different methodologies and communicate their insights to peers.  

Max is particularly concerned with community building. During COVID, he provided students with the opportunity to check-in daily for 15 minutes; from 2020 until 2022. These "stand-ups" were central for many students to stay connected during the most difficult times, to focus on their studies, but also to find ways to express and overcome their common struggles.

Max interacts with students on common ground, is deliberately approachable, and lowers communication barriers across different channels.

Previous winners

Photo credits: Angeline Swinkels, Vincent van den Hoogen, Bart van Overbeeke, Cursor