SAMUEL MOK, CHEMICAL ENGINEERING ALUMNUS
Samuel discovered a passion for teaching
During his Chemical Engineering programme, Samuel Mok earned some extra money by working as a student assistant in practical classes. During these classes, he discovered that he really loved teaching. These days, Samuel works as a Chemistry lecturer at the Saxion University of Applied Sciences.
Individual and flexible
When he first left Hoorn to become a student at Twente, he planned to study Technical Computer Science. “I had been to the Open Day at Delft, but the sheer scale of the place was just overpowering. The University of Twente left me with quite a different impression – it was individual, innovative and flexible. What sold me was the atmosphere of the place, the facilities, and the people you bump into here. These were the deciding factors.”
Samuel has never regretted going to Twente. However, the programme in Technical Computer Science didn’t work out quite so well. “The course was just too abstract for me. It didn’t seem to have any applications in the real world – something I consider to be really important. Chemical Engineering, on the other hand, had plenty of real world applications. That’s all about solving technical problems, something that delivers immediate improvements. What, for example, is the best way to deal with a pump that is not working at peak efficiency?”
In the course of his degree programme, Samuel applied for a job as a student assistant. The work involved supervising first-year practical classes. A nice way to earn a little extra cash, he thought. But it turned out to be much more than that. “I really enjoyed helping others and seeing them grow. I knew how they felt too. As a first-year student, I had really liked being taught by other students. I could relate to them more easily than to the assistant professors or full professors. It was a lot easier to talk to them.”
This introduction to teaching whetted his appetite. Samuel decided to take a Master’s in Science Education & Communication – a combination of Chemical Engineering and a short teacher training course. In the meantime, he was busily applying for teaching jobs. In 2013, he was appointed as a Chemistry lecturer by Saxion University of Applied Sciences in Enschede. These days, he works with other members of staff in a team that includes people from a range of different backgrounds.
“Some have worked in industry, while others previously had career in pure science. Each has their own area of expertise. Some are more into the subject matter, but my main passion is the teaching itself. Aside from my teaching duties, I am involved in the national working group on the digitization of education and in the Taal (Language) working group.”
Avoid poor solutions
To what extent was his Chemical Engineering degree programme of any practical use to the teacher in Samuel? “During my course of study, I was free to select my own subjects. That enabled me to find out exactly what it was that I wanted. For instance, I learned how to solve technical problems systematically – something I am now teaching to my own students. The trick is to examine problems in depth, using a structured approach, before going any further. If you don’t do that, you’ll inevitably run into a brick wall. Students tend to work towards a given solution as fast as they can. But a poor solution is no solution at all.”