UNSW computer science lecturer Richard Buckland has been named among Australia's most outstanding university teachers in the 2007 Carrick Awards For Teaching Excellence.
Mr Buckland, a senior lecturer in the School of Computer Science and Engineering, has now won a series of awards for his teaching and has become extremely popular with students for his engaging style - even to the point where he's been praised in a student blog under the heading "How good is Richard Buckland?".
Despite the accolades, the former actuary who switched to teaching 12 years ago says his secret to teaching success is making the students, rather than himself, the focus.
"The lynchpin of my approach to teaching is I don't really want so much to teach because I think that's extremely difficult," he says.
"I want the students to learn and I think that's extremely easy because I think we are machines built to learn. I really see my job as being someone that inspires and motivates the students and makes them want to learn and then they do the work, not me."
Mr Buckland was among 24 university teachers announced as Carrick Award winners by Federal Education, Science and Training Minister Julie Bishop on Monday, October 8.
The winners each received $25,000 to go to their institutions.
"The Carrick Awards acknowledge the vital contribution made by individuals and teams to the quality of student learning, from undergraduate teaching to research supervision," Minister Bishop said.
Last year Mr Buckland won a Carrick Institute Citation for Outstanding Contributions to Student Learning, a Vice-Chancellor's Award for Teaching Excellence and a NSW Quality Teaching Award.
Mr Buckland lectures in computer security, cyber crime and cyber terror and is also planning to step up his research in the areas of security and cryptography in the coming year.
He has taught students at all levels and has developed programs for teaching gifted and talented students, as well as those with learning difficulties.
UNSW Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic) Richard Henry commended Mr Buckland on his latest award, saying it was "great recognition on your considerable achievements in learning and teaching".
Mr Buckland is humble about the online praise in that student blog, admitting that while he's heard about it he hasn't read it but is always happy to know he's made a difference.
"I think education is really important," he says.
"Transforming people's minds and helping people is what life's about, not making money and things like that."
Mr Buckland is now eligible for the Prime Minister's Award for the Australian University Teacher of the Year, which will be announced at a ceremony at Parliament House, Canberra, on 27 November.