Northwestern CS Announces Winter 2024 Outstanding Teaching Assistant and Peer Mentors | News & Events | Computer Science

Northwestern CS Announces Winter 2024 Outstanding Teaching Assistant and Peer Mentors | News & Events | Computer Science

Northwestern Computer Science honors and recognizes students who demonstrate excellence in computer science mentoring and teaching with the Peter and Adrienne Barris Outstanding Teaching Assistant and Outstanding Peer Mentor awards. Seven students were cited in winter 2024.

Aleksandar Kuzmanovic“We received a number of enthusiastic nominations for both teaching assistants and peer mentors,” said Aleksandar Kuzmanovic, professor of computer science at Northwestern Engineering and chair of the awards committee.

Nominated by any member of the department for service to the CS community that goes beyond expectations, the teaching assistants and peer mentors work with faculty to deliver courses and support of the highest quality.

Shu-Hung You

You was named the Peter and Adrienne Barris Outstanding Teaching Assistant for the winter 2024 quarter in recognition of his service to students in the COMP_SCI 111: Fundamentals of Computer Programming course. He is a PhD candidate in computer science at the McCormick School of Engineering specializing in the theory of programming languages.

“Shu-hung has consistently made incredible contributions to CS 111 over the past several years. He goes far above and beyond what is required and asked of him,” a nominator said. “He is an excellent resource for advanced students who want to discuss more advanced topics in programming languages. We will miss him dearly when he finishes his PhD.”

You is coadvised by Northwestern Engineering professor of computer science Robby Findler and assistant professor of computer science Christos Dimoulas.

You’s research interests include designing language features that ensure correct validation of program behavior, implementing programming languages, building abstract machines, and experimenting with compilers for functional languages.

He is currently working on behavioral boundaries, a theoretical foundation for specifying and comparing contract systems. Behavioral boundaries are a syntactic device that re-structure the common formal model of higher-order contract systems into interposition and monitoring subsystems.

Winter 2024 Outstanding Peer Mentors

The Northwestern CS peer mentor program is designed to ensure that students representing a range of computing backgrounds receive individual attention and real-time feedback.

Max Glass

Max GlassGlass is earning a combined bachelor’s and master’s degree in computer science at Northwestern Engineering. As a peer mentor for the winter and spring sessions of the COMP_SCI 213: Intro to Computer Systems course, Glass aims to serve as an accessible intermediary between students and faculty members.

“Max is very good at debugging and explaining errors in logic,” a nominator said. “He is excellent at explaining the theory and basis behind a lot of the nitty-gritty details in code.”

Glass is a software engineer with the Campus Sleep Initiative, a student-run organization dedicated to bettering the lives of students by raising awareness surrounding sleep health. He is developing CatNap, a mobile app to help Northwestern students re-prioritize their sleep.

A member of Northwestern’s Financial Tech Club, Glass is interested in systems-level software and quantitative finance and plans to pursue a career in software development.

“Receiving the Outstanding Peer Mentor Award is important to me because it affirms that I have made a positive impact on my peers and hopefully I have improved their learning as a result,” Glass said.

Charles Kalousek

Charles KalousekKalousek is a second-year student pursuing a double major in computer science at Northwestern Engineering and economics at Northwestern’s Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences. As a peer mentor, he aims to facilitate hands-on learning outside of the classroom and reinforce problem-solving skills.

“Computer science students need to understand how to approach difficult, multifaceted problems throughout their careers and, as peer mentors, we try to guide students in the right direction by creating diagrams, writing pseudo-code, and questioning their thought process,” Kalousek said.

Nominators in the COMP_SCI 211: Fundamentals of Computer Programming II course highlighted his ability to clarify assignments.

“Charles is consistently helpful in his explanations of both conceptual ideas in code and the debugging process,” a nominator said. “He gives suggestions that are genuinely helpful and is very good at guiding your thinking process to the right point so you can find the answer somewhat on your own.”

Kalousek, who has supported CS 211 for the past three quarters, appreciates the opportunity to pay it forward.

“I am beyond grateful for the recognition, but more importantly I am so glad to have had a positive impact on the students’ learning,” he said. “The peer mentor program has been a tremendous support for me and it’s very fulfilling to provide that support for other students.”

Kalousek is co-president of Northwestern’s Theme Park Engineering and Design Group, a club for themed entertainment and roller coaster enthusiasts to network and collaborate through projects, competitions, and professional development opportunities.

This summer, Kalousek will start an internship with Cat Digital, the digital and technology division of Caterpillar Inc.

Elysia Lopez

Elysia LopezLopez is a second-year student in computer science at Northwestern Engineering who is pursuing a minor in English literature. Students in CS 211 praised her knowledge and thoughtful approach.

“Elysia has been a fantastic peer mentor. In addition to being a generally kind, open, and friendly person, she has a wealth of computer science knowledge,” a nominator said. “She was quick to respond with any question that I had and was willing to work with me even outside of office hours.”

Lopez explained that peer mentors support students through the “ups and downs” of computer science courses. She seeks to make connections to students’ existing knowledge to impart new concepts.

“I’m so honored that I’ve been able to make even a small difference in helping out my peers,” Lopez said. “Teaching and CS are my passions, and to receive such positive feedback truly means the world to me.”

A short fiction writer and fan of fantasy novels, Lopez is focused on learning web development and technologies that enable her to weave storytelling into software. She’s also interested in diving deeper into the realm of educational technology software development.

Lopez is a member of Kaibigan — which means “friend” in Tagalog — the Philippine-American Student Association that builds community through events such as the Pinoy Show, a cultural event that includes live music, dance, skits, and student-made videos.

Nicholas Qiu

Nicholas QiuQiu was recognized by students in CS 211 for his helpfulness, understanding, and patience.

“Nick has always gone above and beyond when helping me and always made sure I got the help I needed whenever I was struggling,” a nominator said. “He is a big reason why I’ve been doing well in my classes. He cares deeply about the students and helping others and is overall a great peer mentor.”

Qiu, a second-year student in computer science at Northwestern Engineering who is also studying mathematical methods in the social sciences at Weinberg, is encouraged by this award to continue serving as a peer mentor and helping others.

“Being a peer mentor means I get to guide and advise my current peers in a more explicit fashion, something that I’ve always been passionate about,” Qiu said. “I get to help students through coursework and concepts that I spent time figuring out myself, to make it easier for them to get through the initial learning curve that many students get stuck in.”

Qiu is a member of the spring 2024 cohort of resident teams at The Garage at Northwestern. His team is building Convident, an AI-powered language learning app that aims to advance intermediate speakers’ language proficiency through personalized learning milestones, a curated selection of resources, and an emphasis on meaningful conversations and cultural understanding.

Qiu also serves as treasurer of Northwestern’s Chinese Students Association, a student organization that promotes awareness of Chinese culture and hosts social and networking events.

Catherine Tawadros

Tawadros is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in computer science at Weinberg with a minor in data science. She provided “friendly and kind” support to students in the COMP_SCI 349: Machine Learning course.

“She was willing to stay past her scheduled hours to help students even when office hours were busiest,” a nominator said.

Celina Zhao

Zhao is a fourth-year student in computer science at Northwestern Engineering who is also earning a minor in data science and engineering and a financial economics certificate from Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management. She was described as an “outstanding member” of the course staff for a particularly large section of CS 349.

As a peer mentor, Zhao builds a collaborative environment and provides guidance, support, and encouragement. She aims to explain course material in an approachable manner, including helping students visualize concepts and utilizing code snippets.

“Receiving this honor reflects my desire to make learning enjoyable and accessible for students, following the positive impact of peer mentors who guided me throughout my learning experience,” Zhao said.

Following graduation, Zhao plans to join Microsoft as a software engineer.

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