The Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science at The University of Texas at Dallas recently honored staff, teaching assistants and faculty at its annual appreciation awards celebration in May. Award winners were nominated by their peers for their outstanding performance. Dr. Poras T. Balsara, interim dean of the Jonsson School, expressed gratitude for the ways staff and faculty have persevered through challenges and enhanced the Jonsson School.
“We have had a busy, full year, and I am thankful for the opportunity to serve the School as Interim Dean,” Balsara said. “It has been my pleasure to work alongside you and to help move our school forward.”
Balsara highlighted the work of event organizers surrounding the Jonsson School’s special community events including the annual Explore Engineering Day held during the National Engineers’ Week, as well as a recent Women in Technology panel discussion held in April. Both community events required support from faculty and staff members from across the Jonsson School and University.
Faculty members, teaching assistants, and researchers were selected based on student feedback as well as teaching and research records. Department leaders each honored faculty and teaching assistants for promoting a student-centered, collaborative work environment. The faculty research recipients were also recognized for their publications, research influence, and involvement in professional organizations. Click here to view all of the award winners for the Annual Jonsson School Awards (2019).
Below are the Award-Winning Computer Science Faculty, Staff, and Students
Outstanding Faculty Teaching Awards
Dr. Vincent Ng, a professor of computer science, was recognized with an outstanding teaching award in May. Ng is one of the most popular instructors for machine learning and AI courses among undergraduate students. Student use words such as “amazing” and “perfect” to describe his teaching style and course. One student even thanked him for homework, saying, “He is fantastic… the non-programming homework helped a lot.”
Dr. Richard Goodrum, a senior lecturer in computer science, was honored in May for holding students to high standards. He works hard and demands the same hard work from students. Students said they learned tremendously from the difficult projects and that lectures were fair and informative. Said one student, “You were very helpful and available, which made this difficult course more bearable. Whenever I was having difficulty in the programs, you were always there to explain to me a second time what you probably already explained in class, so I am very thankful for that.”
Jason Smith, a senior lecturer in computer science, received the final faculty teaching award. Said Dr. Gopal Gupta, head of the Department of Computer Science, “Dr. Smith is a highly dedicated instructor who demands that his students put 110 percent effort into the course. He teaches programming sequence courses in which students learn how to program. Students who do well in this professor’s class are certifiably good programmers. Even though the courses are tough, students enjoy them and say they will take a class from him again.” One student said, “From the visits to the computer science mentor center to the management of all the work, I was able to understand a lot about the concepts. I was able to learn so much about programming.”
Outstanding Staff Award
Norma Richardson, an administrative services officer from the Department of Computer Science, received a staff award at the Jonsson School’s annual awards event in May. Richardson was recognized for her status as the go-to person in her department to handle matters big and small. One nominator wrote, “Norma is called the ‘Fire Chief’ because of her all-encompassing skills to get things done and because she is always the first person that pops in our minds to address the unexpected.” Another refers to her as “ER Doctor” because “we all go to her with our work issues, and she diagnoses them, treats them and sends us back to our offices with a solution and a positive message.”
Outstanding Teaching Assistant Awards
Hemant Malik from the Department of Computer Science also received a teaching assistant award in May. Malik taught an automata theory class, and students frequently requested to join his class when signing up. One student said, “What’s great about this class: organization, interactiveness, examples. Lecture style was good. Quizzes and exams were fair and effective.” Another said, “I really appreciated that he genuinely listened to feedback and interacted with the class on a regular basis.”
Genya Ishigaki from the Department of Computer Science was honored with an Outstanding Teaching Assistant Award. Said one student, “CS 3305 is a very difficult course, but I had a very pleasant experience. I really enjoyed every minute of this class.” Another student trusts this TA so much that they asked for more assignments. “I think he should give quizzes after each chapter in order to keep students on track.”
Aliehsan Samiei, a TA in the Department of Computer Science, was honored with an Outstanding Teaching Assistant Award in May. Said the instructor, “Aliehsan is completely in sync with the rhythm of the course. He knows when the quizzes are scheduled, picks up the quiz papers for grading, knows when the programming assignments are due and, even before I can instruct him, schedules demos for all students where he patiently goes over their code and results. He has also started taking the initiative to suggest potential programming projects. These suggestions are not just some rough ideas, but detailed project descriptions, almost ready to be assigned. TAs like this one make instructors’ lives easy.”
Ashkan Yousefpour, a teaching assistant in the Department of Computer Science, received the final TA award in May. One student said, ‘The jokes, analogies and personal anecdotes, those are all great!’ Another said, ‘Somehow you were able to make one of the more uninteresting topics of mathematics, for me at least, genuinely fun and engaging.” A faculty nominator said, “Ashkan truly is a great student leader who has taken initiatives to enhance the stature of the department, including organizing a distinguished colloquium series in fall 2018 in the area of computer networking. He also taught discrete math to undergraduate students. Whatever he teaches, he finds a way to make the subject engaging to students.”
Click here to view all of the Winners for the Annual Jonsson School Awards.
ABOUT THE UT DALLAS COMPUTER SCIENCE DEPARTMENT
The UT Dallas Computer Science program is one of the largest Computer Science departments in the United States with over 3,315 bachelors-degree students, more than 1,110 master’s students, 165 Ph.D. students, 52 tenure-track faculty members, and 44 full-time senior lecturers, as of Fall 2019. With The University of Texas at Dallas’ unique history of starting as a graduate institution first, the CS Department is built on a legacy of valuing innovative research and providing advanced training for software engineers and computer scientists.