Outstanding Teaching Awards for the 2015-16 Academic Year

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Each year, the Department of Computer Science awards outstanding professors, instructors, and teaching assistants for the ingenuity, intelligence, thoughtfulness, and care that they bring to the classroom. This year, awardees have been recognized for their dedication, love of science, and the ways that they help to make the department one of the best at the University of Maryland.  Professor Pete Keleher, Professor Mihai Pop, and Lecturer Nelson Padua-Perez served on this year’s committee.

Congratulations to all award winners, and we will be celebrating their achievements this fall semester.

For the 2015-2016 academic year, the Outstanding Teaching awardees are as follows:

Dr. Marine Carpuat, Outstanding Computer Science Professor

Carpuat is an assistant professor who taught CMSC422: Machine Learning.  In a letter nominating her for the award she is praised for carefully constructing her lectures so that all students would have a clear understanding of the material.  She is described as skillful, a professor who designs fair assignments, and one who ensured that students see theory and concepts and “create connections needed to learn the material.”  Additionally Carpuat is praised for her ability to explain a complicated topic in multiple ways to ensure that students understand the material.  She is also praised for her care—not only the care she took with students, but the care took teaching Machine Learning.  This attention to her teaching impressed a student so much that even the last day of class was a part of the nomination:

“On the last day of class, she even spent a chunk of time explaining how machine learning can be relevant in our lives and how we can apply what we learned in the class in our future endeavors. As a student that likes seeing these connections to real world applications, I was ecstatic to see this. I strongly believe that Professor Carpuat is one of the best, if not the best, professors that I've had in my time within the CS program and within UMD at large (and I'm a double major at Smith, another outstanding school). I believe she's a model professor, and if we had more professors like her, our program would reach new heights of success. With all that said, I very much believe that Professor Carpuat is deserving of the recognition as an Outstanding Professor of CS.”

Mr. Fawzi Emad, Outstanding Computer Science Lecturer 

Emad is a lecturer who taught CMSC 131: Introduction to Object Oriented Programming I.  In his nomination, he is praised for being an exceptional teacher for new students who have never programmed before, and he is described as an expert teacher.  He is credited for creating an enjoyable learning environment that makes Computer Science less scary.  He is described as a skillful planner, helpful during office hours, and an inspiration to keep coding and to code beyond the classroom.  His attention to creating an exciting learning environment certainly underscored his nominations:

“He goes above and beyond to make class engaging as helpful as possible. Fawzi is also very helpful in terms of answering questions and making sure that his students are actually learning the material in order to help them in later classes. He makes the class fun and one that I thoroughly look forward to going to.”

“Fawzi is very very clear while explaining concepts. Being someone who has a coding experience of more than a year, I thought that his class would not be as effective but I was wrong. He went over intricate details that are useful in writing good and understandable code.”

Ms. Angelisa Plane, Outstanding Graduate Teaching Assistant

Plane is a graduate student in the MS program who assisted with CMSC 411: Computer Architecture.  She is praised for her ability to explain complicated topics in an accessible way, and especially for her inclusiveness to ensure that all Computer Science majors felt welcome during the course.  She is also appreciated for her ability to get students to participate in class, and to encourage learning:

“She has the wonderful ability to explain terms and concepts in a simple way that is easy to understand and follow along with. She always wants to make sure that everyone in the class understands a question before moving on, and always acts in the best interest of her students. Unlike a lot of TAs, Angel gets a lot of the class to participate-- this is one of the few CS discussions where I felt comfortable enough to speak up, and it is no doubt because of Angel.”


Mr. Phong Dinh, Outstanding Undergraduate Teaching Assistant

Dinh is a rising senior who is a double major in computer science and mathematics.  He assisted with CMSC 351: Introduction to Algorithms.   He is praised for his dedication to ensuring that students understood the material, and his willingness to stay after his scheduled office hours to help students who needed extra attention. He also provided advice about internships and careers in computer science:

“Phong was my TA for this course, and he was immensely helpful. Material that was confusing in the text or the lecture was clear once Phong began to explain it. He was open and approachable, and willing to put in the extra effort to help both those who were struggling, and those who were advancing quickly. For me, an advanced special student looking to push forward into graduate studies, Phong helped provide context, experience and insight into what the road ahead looks like. Phong was a great TA and I hope to have him again in the future.”

The Department welcomes comments, suggestions and corrections.  Send email to editor [at] cs [dot] umd [dot] edu.