Computer Science Ph.D. student and teaching assistant Joshua Guerin received the Provost’s Award for Outstanding Teaching in the teaching assistant category during the Founders Day Ceremony held February 22. For those who know and have spent time with Guerin, the award comes as no surprise: Joshua Guerin simply loves to teach.
Guerin’s teaching resume reflects a true love for the craft, not simply seizing opportunities to get ahead. He regular seeks extra responsibility, whether teaching additional classes or developing curricula and assignments for his classes. He has supervised undergraduate teaching assistants as well as undergraduate research assistants. Beyond the university walls, Guerin volunteers and contributes teaching-related service by judging science fairs, getting kids interested in STEM education and coaching a local robotics team at one of the local elementary schools. “I take every opportunity I get to teach. One of the most gratifying things to me is when students get excited about what excites me,” Guerin says.
Specifically, it is computing that excites Guerin. Conveying excitement about computing to students who might not be interested is a challenge familiar to Guerin. “I teach Introduction to Programming, which is required of all engineering majors,” he says. “Many of the students come in with no interest in computer programming and that gives me ample opportunity to convince them of its relevance to their future careers in engineering.”
One of the three letters of recommendation written on Guerin’s behalf in consideration for the Provost’s Award was a former student of his who wrote that he declared a major in computer science after taking Guerin’s class. “When a student tells me that they are continuing to pursue computer science either inside or outside of the classroom I feel like I have accomplished something important,” he says.
Guerin’s primary area of research is artificial intelligence techniques for modeling personal preferences. His goal is to apply these techniques to academic advising. “My hope is to develop software that helps academic advisors and students” he explains. “Ideally, they will come into the advising process better prepared to make informed decisions.”
After graduation, Guerin plans to take a faculty position at a university where he can primarily focus on teaching. With fewer research demands, he hopes to maintain the availability and relational strengths he believes make him an effective teacher. “I consider myself a teacher who does research,” he says. “I enjoy the research I do, but teaching is where my heart is.”