First of all, I was able to learn a lot of new things and gain invaluable experiences inside and outside the classroom through the CoAT & PTP program. By teaching, assisting, organizing, and also attending different lectures, I could win a 360˚ perspective on all aspects of a graduate engineering course at a Tier 1 US institution. It was especially interesting to manage the split between scientific theory and the engineer’s applicability of the topic of electronic interactions in materials. Observing a highly established senior professor interacting with a full spectrum of situations and student reactions helped me to improve my own professionalism. By taking notes for all aspects of the lecture (theory, practice, student’s questions and actions) I was obtaining a large bandwidth of all the different processes of the lecture. Besides learning a lot about engineering, teaching, and psychology, I was able to improve my professional relationship with my mentor, Dr. Zlatko Sitar.
The last few months of intense work have greatly improved my standing at the university and also boosted my self-confidence both as a teacher and researcher. It was fascinating to plan and organize my own lectures, be creative with new ideas, and make them become a reality. I am much better now at estimating the range and length of a lecture and what goals and lecture plans are achievable. Furthermore, I was able to maintain a high level of responsiveness and professionalism throughout the entire experience. I was always on time, prepared, and able to support students with their questions and needs within and between the lectures. Many tasks and problems emerged with short notice or spontaneously, which trained my reactivity and efficiency to solve these kinds of challenges. The issues ranged from designing and executing examinations, supporting students with difficult situations, clearing up confusions, organizing seminars for the lectures, dealing with errors, solving conflicts, and many other things. Over the course of the lecture, I was able to learn how to deal with mistakes. It was very important for me to observe other people’s mistakes and also do some myself. Everyone makes mistakes, but being able to reflect on them and correct them is a very important aspect of learning and improving a new skill. Last but not least I could gain great and versatile feedback from my mentors, peers, and students. This feedback and the wealth of experiences from the lectures will help me become a better educator and improve my overall teaching and communication capabilities.