Commitment to Teaching
Examples of the passion for the computer sciences that are passed on to students in engaging, active, and innovative ways.
It's not unusual to hear from our students that they are "minoring in Sterling." They're referring to our faculty member, Prof. John Sterling, who is dedicated to opening the classroom floor and integrating the students' specific needs into his teaching methods. This conversational approach was recognized with a Jacobs Excellence in Education Award. The following is an example—written by Prof. Sterling himself—of his teaching philosophy:
My goals as an educator at the School of Engineering are to do a good job of teaching my courses and at the same time think about what we should be offering them that we don’t at the moment. Ok, I also want to interact with my students in a way to make them more excited about what we do and what they can do, creating an excitement in them and increasing their opportunities.
My goal is simply to provide a solid education for the students. (Naturally.) This means different things depending on the course. As one who has spent years doing software development in diverse areas of industry and also in academia, I want to help my students be ready to contribute. This involves technical skills, yes, but more it involves an attitude towards the technical skills we learn and the work that we do. The specific technologies that we study certainly matter, but they will change in a few years, so it is less important which ones we teach than how we convey the importance of learning.
Those who are going to develop need to understand the importance of their tools. They need to understand the ideas that formed the languages as they are. If a programmer does not pay attention to the whys, then quite likely the working result will only work some of the time.
Computer engineering professor Haldun Hadimioglu has earned the respect of many of our students for thirty years. His unique combination of connecting with his students in the classroom while becoming very involved in their extracurricular activities has earned him recognition: He has won the Distinguished University Teaching Award, the Nick Russo Memorial Helping Hands Award, and the Student Activities Faculty of the Year Award. Prof. Hadimoglu explains some of his teaching practices and other activities he participates in with students:
I try to give a hand to students and understand what they're going through. I was a student here and it can be very challenging, and so I try to deliver the content to them as best as I can. When I'm in the classroom and speaking, I'm also a student. I try to make sure that what I'm saying makes sense, to write on the board in a structured way so that flows. The students should have to do little work to relearn the information after the class so that they can focus on learning more at home. The more you learn, the more you realize you need to learn. In the engineering field, there's always something new to learn and engineers have to learn quickly. Why not get used to this idea in college, that there's no limit?
Connections are important. There's an emotional side to teaching—students need to feel for the course and content. If they don't like it, how will they see that the material is important for the future? Sometimes I ask the students, "Are you happy? Are you alright?"
I have been the Lunabot adviser of the club and also the team for two years and have been an adviser for the Polytechnic Table Tennis Club and team (now part of the NYU Table Tennis Club). They're #5 in the nation!