Skip to main content
Latest News:
Benny Pham, Ghazi Hasnain, Aidan Boyle, Timber Yuen, Adam O'Grady, and Edward Garcia Torres. The picture was taken in June 2018.

BTech’s Timber Yuen wins 2021 MSU Teaching Award April 12, 2021

Chair of Bachelor of Technology’s automotive program recognized for innovative teaching style and caring approach

In the 10 years since he left industry to take an assistant professor position with the BTech program, Timber Yuen has racked up teaching accolades.

He’s made it on to the Dean’s Teaching Honor Roll for 10 consecutive terms and has earned multiple nominations for the McMaster Student Union’s Teaching Award as an outstanding instructor.

This year, Timber – as even the newest of his students call him – has won the MSU Teaching Award for the Faculty of Engineering.

It’s well-deserved recognition for a teacher who finds novel – and often physical – ways to teach engineering concepts, say his former students.

“His office is filled with different demos and gadgets that he’s created that really brought the concepts to life in the classroom,” recalls Vinicius Reis, a 2018 graduate of the BTech Automotive and Vehicle Engineering Technology program.

Yuen says the approach stems from his industry experience designing and building automation equipment, where scaled-down prototype models were often used to prove a concept and demonstrate a new idea to a customer.

“I find this approach very useful in teaching as well,” Yuen says. “When an abstract theory is discussed in class, I design and build a demo tool to illustrate the theory. When students see a physical model working right in front of them, it is easy to use a series of why and how questions to engage them in the classroom.”

Experiential learning tools like demonstrations, computer simulations and lab experiments help convert mathematical concepts into forms that students can carry in their heads, he adds.

“You could tell every day that Timber loved his job -- it showed in his lesson planning and content,” says 2015 grad Lukas Perez. “He always incorporated real world examples in his lectures to make the concepts stick for us - it was obvious he would spend a lot of time outside of the classroom to put those examples together because they were always up to date and relevant.”

Outside the classroom, students describe Yuen as kind, approachable and caring – a teacher who is genuinely interested in their lives, hobbies and aspirations.

The fact that small class sizes allow him to connect personally with his students is one of Yuen’s favourite parts of teaching in the BTech program.

“The close relationship makes it easier for my students and I to open-up and talk,” he says. “Our topics are sometimes more than academic. I become more like a mentor for them than just a professor.”

That mentoring doesn’t end at graduation.

Steven Nguyen, who earned his degree in 2020 and is now working as a manufacturing engineering intern at Ford, said Timber stays connected with students, offering them career advice, references and encouragement.

“He is the professor that everyone would love to have,” he says. “If every professor I had was like Timber, then I believe my university experience would be like an educational paradise.”