Day: October 12, 2020

zyBooks Founder Frank Vahid to Present Lecture on Teaching Intro CS Courses

Frank Vahid will present his lecture, “Teaching intro CS: Online and in-person techniques for improved learning, cost savings, and reduced cheating,” on Friday, October 23, 2020, at 3:00 p.m., online via Zoom.

Link to the Zoom meeting here.

Vahid is a professor of computer science and engineering, University of California, Riverside, and zyBooks co-founder and chief learning officer.

His research focus is on improving college-level CS/CE/STEM education, and previously (and still) on embedded systems. He is author of textbooks from Wiley, Pearson, and zyBooks on topics including C++, C, Java, data structures, digital design, computer organization, embedded systems, computing technology, introductory math, and algebra.

Vahid has received several teaching awards, including UCR Engineering’s Outstanding Teacher award and UCR’s Innovative Teaching award, both in 2017. In recent years, he has spoken on CS/CE education at over 50 universities across the country.

His work has been supported by the NSF (university and SBIR grants), the SRC, the U.S. Dept. of Education (university and SBIR grants), and companies such as Google and Intel. He received his B.S. in Computer Engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana/Champaign, and his M.S. and Ph.D. in Computer Science from the University of California, Irvine.

Lecture Abstract

We describe the evolution and research findings of UCR’s intro CS courses over the past decade, including an online section taught every quarter since 2013. Starting with the common U-shaped grade distribution and high DFW rate, the courses now have strong grades, low DFW rates, and highly-positive evaluations. These results are consistent across instructors, even new instructors, and also only require a few hours of teacher effort per week and little preparation each term.

The improvements include: (1) creation and use of web-native interactive learning content having hundreds of animations and interactive questions, to replace textbooks, done before class time. (2) using class time for live-coding of examples, with online classes making extensive use of live typed chat, (3) replacing the weekly programming assignment by many-small-programs, with instant auto-grading and repeated submissions, and (4) positive supportive teachers who create a “culture of mistakes”.

To support the above, we started with an early OER attempt, but realizing its limitations, replaced it in 2012 by a company (zyBooks) to provide scalable growth and continual professional improvement of content and platform. That direction has grown to serve over 500,000 students at 600 universities. Our classes now build on top of the existing core to provide higher-level improvements, like new cheating prevention efforts in an era of online solutions and contract programmers, to hopefully continually improve the student learning experience and instructor teaching experience too.


Enterprise Day — October 19, 2020

Are you interested in learning more about Enterprise at Michigan Tech? Maybe you are thinking about joining Enterprise, but are not sure which team is right for you? Learn more by talking with program staff and students from various Enterprise teams, all in one place!

Enterprise Day will take place from 6 to 8 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 19 in Fisher Hall. Teams will be spread out across multiple rooms, over the span of 2 hours. Virtual meeting rooms will be available as well.

Visit with:

Innovative Global Solutions
MIning INnovation Enterprise
Hotforest
Built World
BoardSport Technologies
Formula SAE
Green Campus Enterprise
ITOxygen
Supermileage Systems
Alternative Energy
Velovations
General Expedition Adventure Research (GEAR)
Blizzard Baja
Strategic Education through Naval Systems Experiences (SENSE)
Clean Snowmobile Challenge
Consumer Product Manufacturing
Robotic Systems
Aerospace
Blue Marble Security
Open Source Hardware
Find more information about each Enterprise team, timeblocks, room assignments, and Zoom links here.

Social distancing and masks are required to participate.


Kanwal Rekhi to Receive Melvin Calvin Medal of Distinction

A Michigan Tech alumnus with a long history of philanthropy and support of students will receive the University’s highest honor.

At its meeting, Friday, (Oct. 8), the Michigan Tech Board of Trustees approved awarding the Melvin Calvin Medal of Distinction to Kanwal Rekhi. The native of Punjab, in what was then British India (now Pakistan), earned a master’s in electrical engineering from Michigan Tech in 1969. In the more than half a century since his time on campus, MTU has never been far from Rekhi’s thoughts … and generosity.

After leaving Michigan Tech, Rekhi worked as an engineer and manager before becoming an entrepreneur. In 1982, he co-founded Excelan a company that made Ethernet cards to connect PCs to the fledgling Internet. Excelean became the first Indian-owned company to go public in the U.S.

In the early 90s, he became a venture capitalist investing in more than 50 startups and sitting on the board of directors of more than 20 companies.

In the past few decades, Rekhi has been a tireless supporter and benefactor to Michigan Tech. He developed and funded the Rekhi Innovation Challenge a crowdfunding competition to help promote and support student innovation. He provided major funding for the Silicon Valley Experience, an immersive tour during spring break of San Francisco area companies that includes meetings with entrepreneurs and Michigan Tech alumni, and is a sponsor of the 14 Floors Entrepreneur Alumni Mentoring Sessions.

“Kanwal and his accomplishments epitomize the values we share as an institution. His passion for Michigan Tech is unparalleled and he is most deserving of this award,” said Rick Koubek, President.

While the Melvin Calvin Medal of Distinction is Michigan Tech’s highest honor, it is far from the first recognition the University has given Rekhi. He has received the Distinguished Alumni Award, the Board of Control Silver Medal, an honorary Doctorate in Business and Engineering, and was inducted into the Electrical Engineering Academy.

Additionally, every student who has walked the Michigan Tech campus in the past 15 years has passed the Kanwal and Ann Rekhi Computer Science Hall, dedicated in April of 2005.

The Melvin Calvin Medal of Distinction is bestowed on individuals associated with the University who have exhibited especially distinguished professional and personal accomplishments. It is named for 1931 Michigan Tech alumnus Melvin Calvin, who won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for unraveling the biochemical secrets of photosynthesis. The series of biochemical reactions Calvin identified is known as the Calvin Cycle.