PROF PROMOTED TOO QUICKLY: STUDENTS

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By John Shmuel

Students in an advanced engineering course are alleging a newly hired instructor shouldn’t be teaching their fourth-year class.

Dominic DiClemente, who was a teaching assistant last year, is currently an instructor for ELE863 (VLSI Systems).

He is in his third year earning his doctoral degree. The engineering course examines the design of low-power, high-speed CMOS integrated circuits, according to its course description.

Even though he was a teaching assistant for the course before, many students in his class feel he is not prepared to teach such a complex course.

“A couple of years ago he was sitting in my seat,” said a student enrolled in the class, who didn’t want to be named for fear of impacting his marks. “During lectures he doesn’t go through the material very thoroughly.”

DiClemente holds a Bachelor of Engineering degree from Ryerson University and is currently working toward his Ph.D from the school.

“They shouldn’t be putting in someone who has never taught before,” said another student enrolled in the course.

“Maybe first year or second year, but this is a fourth-year engineering class. We’re paying for our education.”

The previous professor of the course, Fei Yuan, is currently on sabbatical. Yuan holds a Masters degree in chemical engineering and a Ph.D. in electrical engineering. He is also a Ryerson Research Chair.

“This is my area of expertise,” DiClemente said. “If my students have any concerns with my teaching ability, they should come speak to me.”

Michael Dewson, vice provost faculty affairs, said students have a clear path to follow if they have concerns about their teachers.

“Depending on what the issues are, the first line is to discuss their concerns with the instructor or professor. If that isn’t workable or doesn’t work they can talk to the chair of the department.”

Dewson added that barring any last minute emergencies, all instructors and professors at Ryerson are hired by a review committee to ensure they’re qualified. Another student in DiClemente’s class said that much of the material being used in the course are notes written by Yuan.

“The notes are supposed to be supplemented by additional material, which we’re not receiving. There’s a midterm next week and many of us don’t feel prepared,” he said, adding he wasn’t questioning DiClemente’s knowledge, but rather his lack of experience in teaching.

“It’s a fourth-year engineering course. You need to bring a lot of experience to the table to ensure your students fully understand the complex concepts being taught here.”

Stalin Boctor, dean of engineering, architecture and science, declined to comment.

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