Professor Kara is a Professor in the School of Mechanical & Manufacturing Engineering.
Scientia Education Fellow, Sami Kara is a professor in the School of Mechanical & Manufacturing Engineering. He is the founder and academic-in-charge of the Sustainable Manufacturing & Life Cycle Engineering Research Group and also the co-director of the Joint German-Australian Research Group on Sustainable Manufacturing. Since joining UNSW in 2001 with a long track record in industry, he has involved various administration roles in the school and the faculty while maintaining a very high standard of teaching and research.
Sami’s passion and commitment for teaching and supervision has been recognised with numerous awards including; UNSW Innovation in Teaching and Education Technology (ITET) Fellowship (2003), UNSW Vice-chancellor’s Postgraduate Teaching Award (2004), UNSW Faculty of Engineering Carrick Citation Nomination (2007), UNSW Faculty of Engineering Dean’s Teaching Award (2009), UNSW ARC Excellence in Postgraduate Research Supervision Award (2012), UNSW Postdoctoral Academy Supervisor of the Year Award (2012), UNSW Vice-chancellor’s Award for Teaching Excellence (2013), UNSW ARC Excellence in PG Research Supervision Award (2013), OLT - Australian Awards for University Teaching (2014), and UNSW Vice-chancellor’s Award for Teaching Excellence in Postgraduate Research Supervision (2016). Sami is an elected fellow of the Royal Society of New South Wales and the International Academy of Production Engineering (CIRP).
Faculty of Engineering-Vertically Integrated Project (VIP)
Introduction: UNSW Engineering is considering the introduction of a “Vertically Integrated Projects” Program to our curriculum. VIPs are team-based projects, led by an academic, usually in their area of research. The team comprises students from different year groups (2nd year to Postgrad) and is often interdisciplinary. The project is ongoing over multiple years – as senior students graduate and leave the team, more junior students are recruited in the discipline areas that are needed for the project. Vertically Integrated Projects (VIP) have the potential to significantly contribute to several faculty priorities for education and research, including:
- Increased exposure of undergraduate students to research
- Signature student experiences
- Real-world application of engineering principles
- Development of teamwork and leadership
- Scaling up of undergraduate research activity and student-led projects
Progress: In the second half of the 2018, In order to operationalise the program, a working group has been set up and I have been appointed as the lead person. A detail program, project structures and resource requirements have been detailed out and will be submitted to the next DEMC for approval of Head of Schools. In 2019, it is aimed to run a pilot of the program with a select few academic leads as a proof of concept in the UNSW context, with a view to expanding it faculty-wide (and ultimately, university-wide) in the future. As the majority of research projects are multi-disciplinary, there is a huge potential to extend the program university wide. In order to understand the implications, selected SEA fellows have also been invited to working group.
Faculty of Engineering Industry Engagement
Introduction: Industry has been the main employer of engineering graduates; therefore, employability of engineering graduates is a key concern. Training for technical skills required in industry has evolved over the years from an apprentice style to a structured university education system, which has created two separate worlds, as a result, university graduates, taught about fundamental knowledge during their university education, need to be retrained in industry so that they can function in industry. This separation has been further widened with the increased student numbers in the last decade, as a result industry readiness of university graduates is relatively poor.
Therefore, there is a need to introduce a structured program across the faculty to increase the industry readiness of UNSW Engineering faculty graduates.
Background: UNSW Engineering currently has ongoing activities to increase the industry engagement of its students. This project will complement the existing activities in order to develop a structured program across the faculty to increase the industry readiness of UNSW Engineering faculty graduates. Therefore, the aim of this project is to develop such a program based on worldwide university best practices and industry feedback to increase industry readiness of graduates by mapping out industry requirements in a structured manner along with the degree requirements into four years. The proposed program will be developed based on national and international best practices.
Progress: The project has started in 2017. A draft project plan was submitted to the Deputy Dean Education (DDE), which was approved in June 2017. In 2018, the project scope has changed due to the possibility joining it with the VIP program.
P2P Platform (SEIF Project)
Grant team: Ang Liu, Sami Kara, Stephen Lu, Judith Green
This project delivers a fully functional mobile learning platform, namely the P2P Platform, to support peer instruction in the flipped classroom. The project is initiated in the context that the course enrolment is projected to undergo a significant increase in the next few years at UNSW Faculty of Engineering. In the meantime, higher education increasingly calls for a more personalised learning model to replace the traditional model of mass education (i.e., to enable students who have different learning curves to be able to progress at an individualised pace). A promising strategy to address such a dilemma is to empower students to learn from each other by creating more peer learning opportunities (e.g., peer instruction, peer assessment, and peer mentoring). The focus of this project lies in peer instruction. Unlike the small classes where peer instruction can be conveniently facilitated by the lecturer or demonstrator based on their first-hand knowledge of every student, it is difficult, if not impossible, to manually facilitate peer instruction in a large scale. Therefore, we are motivated to support peer instruction in the flipped classroom through new learning tools. Despite the increasing popularity of flipped classroom in engineering education, to date, there has been little study on the integration between peer instruction and flipped classroom in the context of large-enrolment courses. The P2P Platform is designed to fill in such a gap. By analysing self-learning feedback provided by individual students, the platform functions to divide a large class into multiple small cohorts, in which, meaningful peer instructions can be incubated. Meanwhile, the platform functions to compute a set of learning indexes (i.e., pain index, divergence index, diversity index, and inclusion index), which can be used for instructional design purposes.
This project addressed the priority of “demonstrating the effectiveness of innovative technologies in achieving educational outcomes”. The tangible project outputs include a functional mobile learning platform, 2-3 conference and journal papers, a new instructional model for ENGG1000 that is complemented by new subject materials, several presentations in educational conferences, a workshop, and an internal seminar.
This project reveals some interesting findings. From the pedagogical practice perspective, it showcases that peer instruction can be feasibly integrated with flipped classroom even for a large-enrolment course. A new instructional model of “self-learning + lecture + peer-learning + tutorial + online assessment” is proven effective in enhancing academic performance and building learning community in ENGG1000. From the technological development perspective, the P2P Platform is proven effective in enabling peer learning based on students’ feedback in the cyberspace. However, it remains a challenge to inspire initial interest and maintain continuous participation in peer learning throughout the semester, which eventually becomes a student motivation issue. From the instructional design perspective, the set of learning indexes can be calculated based on data analytics of student engagement in the peer instruction process.
Based on the project findings, we recommend that the P2P Platform is most suitable for the large-enrolment courses, where students are characterised by different understandings of the same subject materials. The platform is especially applicable for the first-year introductory courses and purely online courses. The platform can be used to flip a classroom and enable peer instruction. One viable instructional model is “self-learning + lecture + peer-learning + tutorial + online assessment”. The platform is potentially beneficial for other teaching and learning activities such as instant polling in class, peer assessment, and team building.
A detail final SIEF report will be submitted due course.
CIRPe – CIRP Education Portal
Introduction: CIRP, International Academy of Production Engineering (https://www.cirp.net/), is world’s leading international academy in the area of manufacturing engineering. CIRP has more than 500 fellows and members from 40 different countries, with 20% comes from industry. Majority of the members are also educators who have keen interest in engineering education, in particular, manufacturing. I am the only elected fellow from Australia and also the CIRP council member, which is the governing body of the CIRP, formed from 10 elected members.
CIRP has a great deal of interest in engineering education due to changing education technologies, emerging topics, skill requirement for future engineers in manufacturing industry and how to deliver them. Due to the advent of Industry 4.0, which has been triggered by the development in ICT, the nature of engineering education is rapidly changing. As a result, I have initiated a project in late 2018 within CIRP with an aim to start a new CIRP initiative to highlight importance of manufacturing engineering education. This will be achieved via following.
In the short term:
1. Creating a repository of L&T and pedagogical approaches in a web platform, hence named CIRPe- CIRP Education Portal, based on existing practices in the areas of
- Inspired learning and teaching,
- Building educational communities
- Digital technology use
- Feedback and assessment
2. Creating a specific page opened to all members with CIRP headquarters as moderator
3. Share proposals of master degree internships, PhD, postdoc
4. Create a L&T forum opened to all members with CIRP headquarters as moderator
Progress: To date, a working group is being formed and the designing of the web portal has began.
School level contribution
- School of Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering Design Working Groups
Faculty level contribution
- Engineering, Excellence in Education Champions Group
UNSW level contribution
External level contribution
- Fellow, CIRP - International Academy for Production Engineering
Sustainability: the Grand Challenge of our Society and the Role of University Education
Sustainability is one of the greatest challenges of our modern society. It is critical for the survival of current and future generations. Sustainable development was first defined as “… development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs” by the United Nations’ Brutland commission report in 1987. Since then, it has been extensively discussed globally and it has been made a prerequisite for numerous university curriculums around the world.
Professor Kara will talk about his eight years of experience teaching the complex subject of sustainability, which has been informed by twenty years of his research experience in the field. We will hear about his approaches to engaging students in the learning process by using a range of methods, including industry engagement, in order to contextualise the relevance of their learning to the respective profession. Professor Kara will also discuss the value of digital uplift in teaching complex subjects such as sustainability.
Click here to view the lecture.
Past lecture: Fifteen years with first-year students and still learning
In industry, engineering graduates face real-life problems on a daily basis and they are expected to solve these problems by using their knowledge acquired during their education. Students require specific engineering skills as well as graduate capabilities, including problem solving skills, critical thinking, teamwork, discipline-oriented communication, research and the ability to learn independently. Yet the teaching is traditionally often very didactic and encourages rote learning. Thus, students can be unprepared for the workforce, and unable to integrate and apply their knowledge in an industrial setting. First year in a student’s life is particularly challenging as they go through a transition from high school to university learning style, and therefore it is critical that they contextualise the relevance of their learning in the discipline context.
In this lecture, Professor Kara talked about his experience with first-year engineering students over the last 15 years and about his attempts to engage them in the learning process. He explored how using and implementing various concepts, such as blended learning, project-based learning, role playing, research in teaching, or industry engagement helped students contextualise the relevance of their learning with a continuous improvement process in relation to their profession and industry.
Click here to view the lecture.