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Department of Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology

Bart Hallmark awarded Pilkington Prize

Dr Bart Hallmark has been awarded a Pilkington Prize for Excellence in Teaching and the award ceremony took place on 23 June 2015.

The awards were presented by Professor Graham Virgo, Pro-Vice-Chancellor (PVC) for Education.

Every year 12 such prizes are awarded by the University of Cambridge. These prizes, worth £1000 each, were inaugurated and endowed by Sir Alastair Pilkington, the engineer who developed the process for manufacturing flat sheets of glass by pouring molten glass onto molten tin.

One of Dr Hallmark’s major contributions to teaching has been as team leader for the CET IIA Design Project since 2010-11. This entails a huge amount of work in preparing a suitable project. Work on the next Design Project starts as soon as the previous one finishes. Discussion on possible topics takes place with the industrial companies within the Teaching Consortium who are prepared to support the project in some way – this might be by providing expert advice, supplying relevant data that is not in the public domain, or arranging a suitable site visit.

In order to prepare the project scope, Dr Hallmark actually does a large part of the design himself from scratch. This then lets him brief the other staff on the design project team and it means that the documentation issued to students has appropriate information. The actual running of the project during Easter term and the marking of it is very time consuming.

While design always has uncertainties associated with it, and glitches will inevitably be discovered when the project is in progress, the smooth running of the Design Project in recent years has been largely down to Dr Hallmark’s efforts. Students always say that the Design Project is extremely hard work but that they generally get a lot out of doing it. The project is largely responsible for transforming students from 'naive undergraduates' into engineers who may practise in the real world.

Dr Hallmark has completely rewritten the lectures that cover Process Design and he sets a variety of assessed exercises for students that contribute to student’s understanding of design before they undertake the main project. His work in this area includes teaching use of the UniSim process simulator to CET I students, ogether with setting CET IIA exercises on a literature survey, distillation column design, process synthesis,and piping and instrumentation diagram/drawings (P&IDs).

Dr Hallmark’s excellence in teaching isn’t limited to design. He currently teaches introductory chemical engineering to CET I students, rheology to CET IIB students, and numerical methods to MPhil students in Advanced Chemical Engineering. He has taught other courses in the recent past such as Sustainability and Materials. His lecture courses are always well prepared and students comment favourably on his explanations and enthusiasm. He commented, 'I'm absolutely delighted, surprised and honoured to receive this prize. I've always firmly believed that students at the University deserve to receive the highest quality of education possible, and that it's worth going that extra mile to try and strive to deliver exactly that. I’ve probably got it wrong more times than I’ve got it right, but listening to (at times!) constructive student feedback is vital in order to try and make, and implement, incremental improvements. I'd like to thank very much everyone who's supported and encouraged me for the past few years, without which delivery of much of the project-based work would have been so much harder. I’m looking forward very much to riding the new mountain bike that the Pilkington prize has allowed me to build!'

Dr Hallmark makes a number of other significant contributions that affect teaching within the Department. These include organising the Department's Teaching Consortium of industrial companies. In particular, he gets industrial visitors into the Department so that they can run transferable skills workshops for undergraduates. He also promotes the undergraduate course at Open Days and answers queries from potential students.

Previous winners from this department are Dr David Scott (2011), Dr Patrick Barrie (2008), Dr Geoff Moggridge (2004) and Dr Ian Wilson (2000).

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