Sanjeev Bedi believes that to be a great teacher you need to give students the chance to learn by doing. You need to give them the kind of hands-on opportunities that will build confidence and expand their understanding. Bedi is a passionate educator who has inspired thousands of students throughout his career.

Bedi, who teaches at the University of Waterloo, is the founding director of the IDEA’s clinic and established the NSERC Chair in Immersive Design. Today the IDEA’s clinic regularly hosts Design Days for all 14 engineering programs at Waterloo which gives 2,000 students real world opportunities each year. 

During Design Days, students are given an open-ended problem to solve over two days. The topics cover everything from defining the problem, designing, building, and finally validating the design. 

Bedi’s approach augments the co-op model at Waterloo, preparing students for a fulfilling experience in industry. It has been a game changer in the way it allows students a more open way of learning and engaging in the problems they are trying to solve.

Bedi says that the IDEA’s  clinic approach accentuates student learning. Students jump on a project and engage meaningfully with the faculty and staff as they develop their solution. The self-involvement, the enthusiasm, the curiosity laden questions…it all makes the effort a fulfilling experience.

Bedi’s innovative spirit, and ingenuity, goes beyond the classroom. His volunteer work has had a real-world impact in India. 

One of Bedi’s proudest achievements was when he motivated a team of Waterloo students to build a computer-controlled machine to help low-income young people in India. 

It was the culmination of design and lots of work. The programming for the machine was automated and updated data was provided regularly by Waterloo students. The youth in India operated the machine, which produced carved table legs . These were then sold directly to customers, making money and supporting families. It was an example of Waterloo students enhancing their learning by doing a real-world project and at the same time benefitting youth elsewhere. A win-win for all. Bedi is building a similar win-win model around real-world problem solving with Canadian industry within the Ideas clinic.

Bedi’s contributions have been recognized by numerous awards including the Sanford Fleming Teaching Excellence Award, the Waterloo Engineering Society Teaching Award and Waterloo’s prestigious Distinguished Teaching Award. 

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