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Awards for outstanding Graduate Student Instructors and Instructional Aides of 2021/22

These awards honor the outstanding student teachers who are critical to CSE’s mission to provide top level education and instruction.

The Computer Science and Engineering Division is pleased to announce the recipients of the division’s 2021/22 academic year Outstanding Graduate Student Instructor (GSI) and Instructional Aide (IA) awards. These awards recognize the excellence of our student teachers and are based on anonymous student evaluations and faculty input.

Below are our winners, with notes about what makes each one of them special.

GSI Winners

Tian Gao
EECS 484, Database Management Systems
Academic year 2021-2022

“Tian is an absolute star. He was always always on top of everything, from every student concern or question to the most minute details of how we run the class and the logistics. In my entire career, I have never worked with a GSI who is more mature and organized as Tian, and at the same time have amazing leadership skill and a great sense of work ethics.” – Prof. Barzan Mozafari

Reuben Gutmann
EECS 203, Discrete Mathematics
Academic year 2021-2022

“Reuben is truly an outstanding GSI. He’s able to connect with students and explain the material that really makes it feel clear and intuitive for them. He’s taught 203 (and 376) for many years, and is a role model and mentor for the rest of the 203 staff. He has been an integral part of developing and implementing our first-ever “Focus on Fundamentals” discussion section, first offered in W22, and aimed at students who might benefit from additional time for discussion and instructor attention. During the final meeting of the semester, by request of the other staff members, we literally had an agenda item for Reuben to share his thoughts and best practices, so other staff could get one last dose of his wisdom before he graduated. He has made amazing contributions to 203 over many years, always keeping students and student needs in focus, and he will be sorely missed.” – Dr. Kimberly Diaz

Grace Wenqian Ma
EECS 485, Web Systems
Academic year 2021-2022

“Grace took the lead with student support in EECS 485, proactively reaching out to students throughout the semester at critical times. She was a star helping with exams as well! She has my full endorsement!” – Dr. John Kloosterman

Keerthana Kolisetty
EECS 183, Elementary Programming Concepts
Fall 2021

“Keerthana is an exceptional GSI in all regards. * She served as grader before becoming a GSI. * Her performance in administrative responsibilities was professional – working effectively with little oversight and improving our processes. Keerthana was especially notable for managing and recruiting graders. * As shown in the student feedback, Keerthana was an exceptionally caring instructor in lab and office hours.” – Dr. Bill Arthur

K Faryab Haye
EECS 370, Introduction to Computer Organization
Fall 2021

“Faryab is one of the most dedicated of the 176 IAs/GSIs that I have worked with. He is thoughtful in his work as a student teacher – he represents the student perspective in teaching staff discussion. It was clear that each student was an individual and Faryab wanted to see them succeed. He is very professional to work with – respectful to faculty while also being a collaborator. It was a great pleasure to work with Faryab.” – Dr. Bill Arthur

Grace Li
EECS 203, Discrete Mathematics
Fall 2021

“Grace has been an integral part of EECS 203 for a long time (~8 semesters total, I think), and her contributions in the Fall were particularly stellar (she graduated in December). EECS 203 is wrapping up our first year of a 3-year partnership with the Foundational Course Initiative, and until she graduated, Grace was an incredibly valuable member of that team, bringing both the student perspective and the IA/GSI perspective to many conversations on how to improve the course. She had valuable insights to share and her input helped us make better decisions across the board, from streamlining the curriculum to improving the course culture and climate. Grace is also a fantastic instructor. Her course evaluations are consistently among the best of our entire staff, and she has organized and led the EECS 203 exam review sessions for many many semesters. Those review sessions are highly attended, and students rate them among the most helpful resources in the entire course. Grace has also been an inspiration and a mentor for many of the new IAs and GSIs who have joined our staff over the years.” – Dr. Kimberly Diaz

Lauren Biernacki
EECS 370, Introduction to Computer Organization
Winter 2022

“I want to underscore Lauren Biernacki’s consideration for this award, she was a GSI last semester, but upgraded to an instructor for EECS 370, due to a lack of faculty to teach the course. She did a fantastic job of teaching, managing the activities of 29 teaching staff members, and organizing the exam creation and grading. The exam work was particularly spectacular, whereas two semesters ago the exams led to complaints to the Provost, this last semester, the exams went off without any issues at all.” – Prof. Todd Austin

Edward Donghyun Song
EECS 388, Introduction to Computer Security
Winter 2022

“Edward was good at explaining concepts in the course.” – Student endorser

Charles Ziegenbein
EECS 388, Introduction to Computer Security
Winter 2022

“Charles put in extra effort to help us when code wasn’t working or we were confused.” – Student endorser

GSI Honorable Mentions

Alice C Ying
EECS 485, Web Systems

“Alice is a mainstay on the EECS 485 staff and has made great contributions to climate in the classroom.” – Dr. Drew DeOrio

Alexandra Veliche
EECS 477, Introduction to Algorithms

“Alexandra was very knowledgeable and good at explaining complex topics.” – Student endorser

Shang-En Huang
EECS 586, Design and Analysis of Algorithms

“Shang–En did a good job. I thought his presentations in discussion were helpful but we always seemed to be pressed for time when during discussion.” – Student endorser

Skyler Ning-Fong Hau
EECS 183, Elementary Programming Concepts

“Skyler always came to class prepared and ready to help any student that needed help. From my view, none of my fellow classmates felt shy or afraid to ask Skyler a question, because regardless of one’s comprehension level, he would do his best to make sure that we understood. He did a great job teaching and I hope that many students in the future are able to take him as a lab instructor.” – Student endorser

IA Winners

Makayla Elizabeth Beardsley
EECS 183, Elementary Programming Concepts
Academic year 2021-2022

“Makayla is an essential instructor for the CSP lab section in EECS 183. She is very well respected by faculty and the other student teachers. New IAs tend to be shyer when speaking up in meetings with staff who have taught for 3-5 years. Makayla is as engaged as student teachers with much more experience. It’s not a surprise that students would rate her so highly.” – Dr. Bill Arthur

Allen Xingjian Diao
EECS 445, Introduction to Machine Learning
Academic year 2021-2022

“As an IA for 445, Allen went above and beyond, not only fulfilling his duties very well, but also substituting for multiple IAs on discussions, showing compassion to students, being empathic to graders (as IA liaison to graders), and stepping in at the last minute when there were occasions when other IAs had personal or other reasons to step away.” – Dr. Sindhu Kutty

Cesar Mu
EECS 388, Introduction to Computer Security
Academic year 2021-2022

“Ceaser was a great IA, he was good at explaining concepts in the course and helpful during office hours.” – Student endorser

Alexandra Isabel Saavedra
EECS 370, Introduction to Computer Organization
Fall 2021

“I really appreciated the project walk throughs and having help with questions. I also thought Alexandra did a great job when she taught discussion.” – Student endorser

Tim Cho
EECS 497, Human-Centered Software and Design and Development
Fall 2021

“Tim was a great instructor, very helpful and insightful.” – Student endorser

Abigail Fox
EECS 183, Elementary Programming Concepts
Fall 2021

“Abigail has extensive service to the EECS department as student teacher: 7 semesters, 4 courses, 12 total terms taught, teaching two courses most terms. Abigail contributes significantly to our courses and is a role model for our students and other IAs. I think it would be an egregious error not to recognize Abigail’s prolific contributions in teaching for CSE.

Just a couple of the (many) ways that Abigail is an exceptional student teacher, in my experience working with her in 370 and 183:
* Dedication to students. Abigail is never shy about representing the students in discussions in and out of staff meetings. She gives thoughtful recommendations periodically about concrete changes to how we teach with the goal of improving the student experience. An example of this team collaboration and formation in 183.
* Dedication to student teachers. Abigail speaks out in and out of meetings about the perspective and needs of student instructors as employees. She has contributed directly to work expectations in 183 for the regularity of schedule and work hours for staff – many of whom work more than one job while also being students.
* Contribution to, and leading of, discussions in staff meetings and on Slack. An example is the perennial discussions and concrete advice for how to help students in distress in labs and office hours.” – Dr. Bill Arthur

Skyler Ning-Fong Hau
EECS 183, Elementary Programming Concepts
Fall 2021

“In addition to being highly rated by his students, Skyler has been a star for his peer student instructors. He exceeds expectations in all areas including Piazza, office hours, and mentoring of junior peers. Skyler is also notable in taking leadership roles, especially in areas where others are not. He is proactive in seeing and taking responsibility for things that otherwise may fall through the cracks. One example was the need for student partner finding which he led for the last year.” – Dr. Bill Arthur

Ahmad Faiyaz
EECS 494, Computer Game Design and Development
Winter 2022

“Ahmad excelled in very challenging circumstances this semester, serving our senior design students with consistent, actionable feedback as we returned to in-person teaching. He went above-and-beyond in supporting our lectures (attendance is not required of IAs), lending valuable insights and a strong student-focused perspective to our discussions.” – Dr. Austin Yarger

Chen Huang
EECS 370, Introduction to Computer Organization
Winter 2022

“Chen knew his stuff, and was fantastic at understanding/answering questions. Super proactive and willing to help on Piazza too, absolutely great.” – Student endorser

Farzad Siraj
EECS 388, Introduction to Computer Security
Winter 2022

“Farzad was good at giving useful tool tips and also at explaining concepts in the course.” – Student endorser

Drew Raymond Vanderspool
EECS 388, Introduction to Computer Security
Winter 2022

“Drew was a very good instructor and very helpful with the projects. I found it valuable to go to his lab in–person.” – Student endorser

IA Honorable Mentions

Justin Applefield
EECS 485, Web Systems

“Justin did a great job. I appreciate him listening to questions and ensuring our understanding of the material.” – Student endorser

Jackson Cooper Vails
EECS 494, Computer Game Design and Development

“Jackson excelled in very challenging circumstances this semester, serving our senior design students with empathy, impact, and actionable feedback as we returned to in-person teaching. When additional weekly office hours were requested, he did not hesitate to lend us his scarce time, allowing our course to offer office hours every day of the week. Beyond his responsibilities and contributions to EECS 494, Jackson served the game development / XR campus community as Engineering Director of the Wolverine Soft Studio extracurricular game development team, resulting in the creation of a new commercial product (https://wolverinesoft-studio.itch.io/twin-blades) – a boon to local game development / XR knowledge, and benefit to the portfolios of those involved.” – Dr. Austin Yarger

Joshua Bennett Siegel
EECS 280, Programming and Introductory Data Structures

“I thought Joshua was great, he did the necessary work and was super accessible to students.” – Student endorser

Claire Yang
EECS 477, Introduction to Algorithms

“Claire is very thoughtful and understanding of students and their questions. She is excellent at explaining difficult concepts.” – Student endorser

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Honors and Awards; Student News