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Dr Philip Hanna awarded prestigious National Teaching Fellowship

Dr Philip Hanna, an academic at Queen’s University Belfast, has been awarded a National Teaching Fellowship (NTF) for his work in computing education.

Dr Hanna from the School of Electronics, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science was put forward as Queen’s University's institutional nominee in April 2017 and won the prestigious Award following a rigorous peer review and selection process. Commenting on the award, Dr Hanna said:

"I really am delighted to have received a NTF. In many respects, I’m fortunate to be in a position where I can collaborate with a wide range of talented academics and employers to improve computing education. Working together we’ve been able to help pupils and students on their journey towards employment in this economically vital area."

Outstanding Impact
The National Teaching Fellowships will be awarded at a celebratory event in November. The Scheme recognises and rewards individuals who are judged to make an outstanding impact on the student learning experience, and provides the means to develop a proactive community of National Teaching Fellows.

Fifty-five individual awards were available across the UK Higher Education sector in 2017, in recognition of individual excellence.

As Director of Education in his School, Dr Hanna is responsible for the development and delivery of a range of accredited degree programmes that are taught to approximately 2,000 undergraduate and postgraduate students. He feels passionately that those studying for a degree should benefit from improved life choices. His goal is to inspire and support students so they achieve their full potential. He does this in a 'joined-up' manner that takes into account the needs and prior experience of learners, alongside preparing them for the challenges they will face in the future.

Dr Hanna has also helped to encourage younger pupils to study computing through a series of outreach events. He received a significant grant from the Northern Ireland Department of Education to deliver a series of upskilling courses for A-level teachers to help them develop the programming skills needed to teach the new Computing A-levels. These efforts have helped to double the number of NI students who take an A-/AS-level qualification in computing. Recently, he has received funding from CME Group Foundation to offer the teacher training courses to GCSE teachers.

Culminating in the establishment of a Software Academy, Dr Hanna has introduced several new degree programmes that have been designed in collaboration with employers. This includes MEng and BEng programmes in Software Engineering and a conversion MSc in Software Development which was designed to widen access to HE by being accessible to graduates from non-computing backgrounds.

Blended Learning
He has worked with employers to embed guest lecturing, case studies and has jointly supervised projects throughout the curriculum. Alongside this, he has incorporated a series of hackathons and tech talks, and promoted the use of innovative technology to support blended learning.

Combined, these actions have resulted in significant student growth and helped Northern Ireland to become one of the most popular destination in Europe for IT companies and software development projects.

In the future, Dr Hanna will build upon the teacher training initiatives to establish a support network for teachers. He also plans to develop the Software Academy so that it becomes an established centre of excellence for software engineering education.