Author Archives: Nicola Spaldin

About Nicola Spaldin

Nicola Spaldin is the professor of materials theory at ETH Zürich. She is a passionate science educator, former director of her department’s study program, and holder of the ETH Golden Owl Award for excellence in teaching. She developed the class of materials known as multiferroics, which combine simultaneous ferromagnetism and ferroelectricity, and when not trying to make a room-temperature superconductor, can be found playing her clarinet, or skiing or climbing in the Alps.

An open letter to students of Materials Science and Engineering

(first published in The Materialist, May 2021) Dear Materials Science and Engineering Students, I congratulate you whole-heartedly on your choice of Materials Science and Engineering for your undergraduate studies.  You are all a whole lot smarter than I am. When … Continue reading

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Stalemate

Following the input from the Rating Conferences that I wrote about in the last blog the MSc curriculum revision project team found ourselves going around in circles: Core courses or not? And if so how many? And what makes a … Continue reading

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Rating Conferences

Following the SWOT analysis of our master’s degree program, the next step in our curriculum development plan has been a series of Rating Conferences. Introduced as a tool for evaluating and developing curricula almost ten years ago [1], a Rating … Continue reading

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A not (yet) successful experiment in walking office hours.

Faced with the thought of trying to establish interaction with 50 masked students spread to the far-flung corners of an enormous lecture room from behind a perspex screen with my glasses steaming up, I decided from the start of this … Continue reading

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No peace for the wicked

Having coordinated the development of perhaps the most unsocially distanced bachelors’ curriculum imaginable, structured around groups of students working closely together on hands-on projects, only to have it debut during the throws of a major global pandemic, I felt pretty … Continue reading

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Pandemic Planning

At the start of our curriculum revision process three years ago I read many pedagogical articles about project-based learning. In addition to espousing the benefits and relating success stories, some of these articles detailed risks; difficulty in ensuring that all … Continue reading

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Online Courses versus Online Teaching

When the ETH moved all of its classes online six weeks ago I channelled my corona anxieties into scouring the literature for best practices in online teaching pedagogy, and I discovered a wealth of scholarly studies and practical information on … Continue reading

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Why it matters

There’ve been a few times during the last couple of weeks, as we’ve been shutting down our labs to an accompaniment of tragic news reports of horrible human suffering around the world, that I’ve asked myself whether struggling on with … Continue reading

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Sounding Board 2

It’s been almost two years since I introduced you to our Alumni Sounding Board, who have been helping us to keep in mind the industry perspective since the very beginning of our curriculum revision. Now that we are deep in the … Continue reading

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Project-based learning and craft-brewed beer

One of the most enjoyable of my curriculum-revision tasks over the last weeks has been my participation in the “P2 team”, that is the Project team for Project-based learning (we could probably have done better with one very long german … Continue reading

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