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Students chose him as Teacher of the Year

Carl-Mikael Zetterling with the silver apple, handed over by Filip Axelsson, THS. Photo: Philip Zetterling
Published Dec 14, 2022

Carl-Mikael Zetterling, alias Bellman, Professor and Head of the Department of Electronics and Embedded Systems at KTH, is awarded the THS educational award Teacher of the Year 2022. He is recognised, among other things, for ensuring that the education is motivating and relevant by using innovative lab and teaching methods. Big congratulations, Bellman!

"Thanks, I was very happy! I try to be available to my students, during lectures and during breaks. Give a relaxed impression and adapt the teaching methods to the students. My approach to teaching is that it is for the students, not for me. And the lecture halls are not necessarily where students learn the most. The learning itself takes place when you sit down and work yourself, as in my digital design course, where you build on your own."

Pre-recorded lectures, encouragement to work together, going through old exams and lab kits are appreciated by his students, and his tactic is to always find a good textbook, which is easy to read and free, where the threshold is minimal for a first step in learning.

He was one of my five best students during my time as a teacher, with nearly seven thousand technologists whom I taught during my years at KTH. We wanted him to start his doctoral studies with us in the Department of Teletransmission Theory (TTT), but he chose Kista, which was just right for him.

Franz Cech, the now retired University Lecturer at KTH.

Structured, clear and enthusiastic

"After the pandemic, it became so much clearer that some people prefer to listen to a recorded lecture, and this is what I provide. Sure, I cringe watching my own recordings, but if you're sick, traffic is chaos, then look via Zoom, you don't have to come to school and infect others – we learned that during the pandemic. Same thing with the lab kit, the students can sit anywhere and build together.

Many may not agree and want to force the students to come to the lecture hall. But my question is why? Why should the teacher decide how, when or where they learn? The students must decide that for themselves. The more ways students can learn, the better. Everyone learns differently."

Bellman's teaching style can be described as follows; structured, clear and enthusiastic.

"I don't try to keep up with clever tricks that you have to remember, then everything falls apart. And I try to be enthusiastic too. Electronics is fun! That's why I enjoy teaching."

His teaching career began during his own studies at KTH, with Franz Cech as his maths teacher.

"I appreciated his teaching style very much and developed an interest in teaching, so I asked him if I could be his teaching assistant. It was appreciated by the younger students because I read the course recently and was able to explain – so that's the way it all started."

Inspiration from his colleagues at KTH

Today, he gets a lot of inspiration from his colleagues at KTH, especially during the “Storträffar” where there is an exchange of experiences.

"A lot has happened at KTH during the 31 years that I have taught. When I started as a doctoral student, you were enticed to take the pedagogical course for thousand Swedish crownes. You didn't get any university credits. Then they started structuring the pedagogical education and set requirements for higher education credits for faculty. Today, we have incredibly talented teachers and there is plenty of exchange during teacher conferences and events where we exchange experiences around teaching and discuss courses."

How will you celebrate?

I will celebrate with my family on Christmas Eve - then the champagne comes out!