2014 CoE Towner Prize for Outstanding Graduate Student Instructors

These students received the award for their creativity as an instructor, their thorough understanding of the content, and for their dedication to student success.

Each year the College of Engineering awards the Towner Prize for Outstanding Graduate Student Instructors (GSIs) to the top graduate student instructors throughout the College of Engineering. In 2014, two 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!

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Hamid-Reza Ossareh

Hamid-Reza recently received his PhD in Electrical Engineering:Systems in the area of powertrain controls, and joined Ford Motor Company as a research engineer. He was a GSI for EECS 560: Linear Systems Theory.

Hamid’s main goal was to expand students’ knowledge of classroom theory to practical applications. To achieve this, he developed weekly study guides that summarized material and provided unique real-world applications and examples. One student said, “The discussion outlines created by Hamid were an excellent balance between providing enough information for students to comfortably listen and comprehend the material while still requiring active participation through writing.” Given the wide range of disciplinary backgrounds in this 100+ student course, Hamid adapted his teaching in a manner that supported all of his students’ learning.


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Bryce Wiedenbeck

Bryce is a graduate student in the Computer Science and Engineering program. He was a GSI for ENGR 151: Accelerated Introduction to Computers and Programming.

He created projects for each lab section and designed them to meet the diverse programming backgrounds of his students. His labs included basic tasks to help all students master foundational knowledge, as well as optional challenge problems to engage more experienced programmers. He assigned both individual and pair programming tasks; individual projects helped students assess their own understanding, while pair programming promoted communication and let students share their knowledge and approach with peers. Bryce also created his own surveys at the middle and end of the term, and improved his teaching based on feedback from students.