College award for excellence in education

Bill Arthur was recognized for demonstrating sustained excellence in instruction and guidance.

Dr. William Arthur Enlarge
Dr. William Arthur

Dr. Bill Arthur has been awarded the 2019 Thomas M. Sawyer, Jr. Teaching Award from the College of Engineering. This award recognizes lecturers who have demonstrated sustained excellence in instruction and guidance at the undergraduate levels, including developing new courses, enhancing communication skills among faculty and students, planning curricula, and dedication to students.

For four years, Arthur has been one of several leaders of EECS 183, Elementary Programming Concepts. This large class is designed to teach undeclared students and non-CS majors the fundamentals of algorithmic thinking and programming. Arthur and other instructors assume the students have never written a line of code, and take them from that point of knowing nothing to programming a real, working project.

Thanks to a focus on projects and team assignments, the course has surged in popularity. In the semesters led by Arthur, enrollment has totaled from 700 to 1000 students. At the end of each semester, the students fill the Michigan League Ballroom to capacity in shifts throughout the day to display their finished final projects, ranging from simple game and app designs to interfaces that can manipulate LED-covered devices.

In all, Arthur has led sections of 183 for 11 semesters, dating back to when he taught it as a grad student in the department (Arthur finished his PhD with advisor Prof. Todd Austin in 2016, and prior to that he also earned a BS and MS in the department). He taught throughout his PhD studies, including four semesters of 183 and one of EECS 370, Introduction to Computer Organization. In spring of 2015, he traveled with his advisor to Ethiopia to participate in U-M’s collaborative research program at Addis Ababa Institute of Technology. There he led a Fault-Tolerant Computing course for a PhD cohort at the college.

As a researcher, Arthur focuses on the topics of computer security, computer architecture, compilers, system security, network security, hardware/ software co-design, software engineering and test, and engineering education. He has worked with Austin on control-flow security, a new approach for preventing the injection of harmful code into a program’s control.