Three members of the Engineering School faculty were recognized this year for excellence in teaching and mentoring students.
Andrew Houck, a professor of electrical and computer engineering, received the School of Engineering and Applied Science Excellence in Teaching Award. Houck, whose research applies quantum mechanics to engineering, is known as an enthusiastic and engaging teacher and sought-after adviser. He has been a leader in successful efforts to restructure the first-year engineering curriculum to increase interest and retention among students. A recipient of the University’s President’s Award for Distinguished Teaching, Houck has been included in the Dean’s Commendation List for Outstanding Teaching 15 times. Sharad Malik, chair of electrical and computer engineering, called Houck an “off-the-scale” teacher.
Students called Houck a “phenomenal instructor” who demonstrated “pure pedagogical mastery.” In presenting the award at the engineering school’s Class Day ceremony, Vice Dean Antoine Kahn called Houck “an amazing faculty member who is having a major impact across the entire spectrum of the department and SEAS’s teaching and mentoring activities.” Dean Andrea Goldsmith said Houck “embodies the fact that you can be an outstanding teacher and an outstanding researcher, and that they are intertwined.”
Olga Russakovsky, an assistant professor of computer science, was awarded the undergraduate teaching award by the Princeton chapter of Phi Beta Kappa. Russakovsky’s work encompasses the intersection of computer vision, machine learning and human-computer interaction. Recognized as a leader in efforts to increase diversity in computer science and artificial intelligence research, Russakovsky was a co-founder of the national AI4All Foundation, which seeks to increase inclusion in computer science through mentorship and education, and now serves as director of the organization’s Princeton chapter.
Students praised Russakovsky’s enthusiasm, consideration and her ability to present challenging subjects clearly. In the classroom, she makes subjects such as the concept of computer vision accessible by breaking down “even the most complex topics into digestible parts,” said senior Dora Zhao, a computer science concentrator. “Professor Russakovsky did it all with an evident and infectious passion for the subject that made even the most math-weary and machine learning-skeptical student learn to love computer vision as well.”
Howard Stone, the Donald R. Dixon ’69 and Elizabeth W. Dixon Professor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, received Princeton University’s Graduate Mentoring Award, which recognizes excellence in supporting graduate students’ development as researchers, scholars and professionals. Stone, chair of mechanical and aerospace engineering, studies fluid dynamics, especially as they arise in research and applications at the interface of engineering, chemistry, physics and biology.
Students commended Stone for his eagerness to help them work through difficult problems. “Whether it be in his classes or with students in his lab, he always makes time for us and comes to any conversation completely engaged,” one of his advisees said. One advisee, who has worked with Stone for 10 years, said he encourages students’ independence. “As a young person who dreams of becoming a scientist, this means so much,” the advisee said. Another former student, who is now a professor, said “despite his vast intelligence, intuition and technical knowledge, which have propelled him to the top of his field, these traits are still somehow eclipsed by his humility and good nature.”