2013 CoE Towner Prize for Outstanding Graduate Student Instructors

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Each year the College of Engineering awards the Towner Prize for Outstanding GSIs to the top graduate student instructors throughout the College of Engineering. In 2013, three of the four awards went to students in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science.

These students received the award for their exceptional ability, creativity or innovation as an instructor, their thorough understanding of the course content, and for their remarkable dedication to student success. We thank them for their committment to excellence in teaching our students!


Jay Patel Apoorva Bansal

Apoorva is a graduate student in the Computer Science and Engineering program. He has taught the College's introductory course on computation, Introduction to Computers and Programming (ENGR 101). Apoorva is a recognized expert on the course, having progressed from student to grader to IA and finally to GSI. In his role as GSI, he has introduced relevant and creative problem-solving exercises to demonstrate real-world applications of MATLAB and C++.

To improve future offerings of ENGR 101, Apoorva has proposed a cohesive series of projects to create an overarching theme for the course. In an effort to provide more resources for students, he also led exam review sessions and shared recordings of those sessions via Ctools. Apoorva encourages an interactive classroom environment and has a great rapport with students.


Jay Patel Jay Patel

Jay is a graduate student in the Electrical Engineering:Systems program. He has taught the popular senior level course, Embedded Control Systems (EECS 461) for four semesters. During this time, as enrollment increased beyond capacity, Jay reorganized the students' workflow so they would be able to complete their labwork without a long wait to get to a lab station. At the same time, he helped install new workstations and upgrade all the software.

Jay was recognized for his ability to interact well with students, while also being the first GSI to develop well-documented solution code for the labs. The course is very multidisciplinary, and Jay mastered each component so that he could not only answer student questions, but guide them to find their own answers. This is the mark of a great teacher. His personal dedication to the students was revealed in his willingness to answer their questions via email 24/7, even while on vacation, and to open the lab for extra sessions when needed.


Jay Patel Holly Tederington

Holly Tederington is a graduate student in the Computer Science and Engineering program. She has taught Programming and Introductory Data Structures (EECS 280), where she was instrumental in implementing active learning techniques in the classroom while focusing on student questions to guide her lessons. To encourage consistent and high quality instruction across discussion sections, Holly also designed and presented a workshop on teaching for new GSIs and IAs.

As a GSI, she also contributed an astounding 713 posts to the course forum online, exhibiting an extremely high level of attentiveness to student questions. Students appreciated her infectious passion for programming and the interactive classroom environment that she created.