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Past Winners of the Teacher of the Week

C. Yaman Evrenosoglu

   

The Center for Instructional Development and Educational Research (CIDER) recognizes C. Yaman Evrenosoglu, assistant professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, for for his dedication to the project-based learning of his students. By engaging them in and outside of the classroom, he keeps them focused during each lecture and throughout the semester, as well as deepens their understanding of complex mathematical modeling and computational problems.

Dr. Evrenosoglu (i.e., Dr. E, as the students know him) believes that the students have to be engaged during the lecture. In order to promote participation by the students, Dr. Evrenosoglu posts the lectures ahead of time on the course website so that the students have access to the content. This prevents the students from feeling anxious to take notes and provides them the opportunity to concentrate on the lecture and ask more questions. Dr. E makes sure that students ask questions, doing his best to provide a safe and friendly learning environment so that his students feel comfortable participating. Dr. Evrenosoglu also requires each student to visit him in his office hours at least twice a semester to ask meaningful questions related to the class. He makes sure that he learns the names of each student so that he can randomly direct his questions to individual students, calling them by name. He records short-lectures on his computer (slides accompanied by his voice) and creates videos to be posted online. Video recordings of solutions to different and difficult questions provide students the opportunity to watch the material repeatedly in case they do not understand the topic on the first try. He communicates with his students via e-mail regularly; his average reply time to online questions is two hours. He regularly assigns term projects (including analysis and design) on real-world problems in power engineering, and requires students to write their own computer programs to solve the problems. Dr. E makes sure that they learn how to use a software package as well so that they can compare their own results with those they obtain from the package. The students are also expected to provide technical reports on their findings. In graduate classes, Dr. Evrenosoglu asks the students to present their findings in addition to submitting their reports. Dr. Evrenosoglu provides extra credit opportunities all along the semester. He assigns bonus homework assignments and extra questions on midterm and final exams so that the students who don’t do well in the beginning can still have higher grades if they work hard and try to catch up. Of course, he makes it clear that the bonus questions and assignments are much harder than the regular ones, routinely requiring deeper analytical thinking.

During the fall 2011 semester at Virginia Tech, Dr. E taught ECE4334 Power System Analysis and Control. He designed and created new materials such as PowerPoint lecture notes for all lectures, instructional videos prepared by Camtasia, and a term project for students. During the spring 2012 semester, he offered a new graduate level course, ECE6304 Power System State Estimation, in which he utilized the material he developed during his time at University of Nevada Reno (his previous appointment) and added to the class material by including two new topics. This class was broadcast to Richmond and NVC. Dr. Evrenosoglu visited both institutions once during the semester to meet with the students at those campuses. He is currently teaching ECE6304 Computational Methods for Power Engineering and he also is developing new material for this course.

While at the University of Nevada Reno, where he was employed for three years prior to his appointment at Virginia Tech in 2011, Dr. Evrenosoglu created and taught two graduate level courses: power system operations and power system state estimation. He was responsible for teaching a freshman level course, Introduction to Engineering Design (every fall, approximately 350 students) and a sophomore level course, Circuits I (every spring, two sections, total of 150 students). He also taught a junior level course, Control Systems I to replace a faculty member on sabbatical. Dr. Evrenosoglu received the Most Outstanding Teacher Award given by UNR IEEE Student Branch in 2009.

Dr. E’s students at Virginia Tech have commented on his teaching skill. Several example comments from his ECE4334, fall 2011 course follow:

“Dr. E is a great teacher. Some of the students were disappointed with their grades at the beginning of the semester, but everyone was getting used to his teaching and grading style. He does not offer as much partial credit as some other teachers, but he is interested in students showcasing their understanding of the material. He is one of the smartest professors I have ever had, and would recommend him to anyone that is interested in the field of power.”
“He would sometime link the course to real-world applications in a reasonably good way.”
“[He] worked examples, [was] available for office hours, [and] assigned reasonable homework.”
“[Dr. E] listened to feedback from students.”
“[He] wanted student to succeed.”
“[Dr. E was] very helpful with questions/problems, explained things in detail to ensure understanding, went the extra mile (videos, etc.).”
“Dr. E posted examples of problems, videos of himself working problems, and other things that aided students throughout the semester. He was always willing to help students out with whatever they were having trouble with. He posted his lecture slides, as well as instructional videos, on Scholar. He also made himself available for office hours and review sessions – and I think it was a good idea that he required at least two office hour visits throughout the semester.”
“He emphasized reasoning and purpose behind why these power components performed the way they did instead of simply feeding us formulas.“
“Dr. E is a tough instructor, but a fair one. He’s very accessible – very willing to make office hours appointments outside of his regularly scheduled times, and usually responds to emails within an hour or two. He expects a lot out of his students, which is fair because he's also working hard himself. He's a very good teacher. I would recommend this course to anyone who's up for a challenge. I've learned a lot and it's well worth it.”

Student comments from Dr. E’s ECE6304, spring 2012 course follow:

“Lecture notes were clear and concise. The programming part of the homework problems were well-chosen to reinforce class material without being unnecessarily complicated.”
“He was very approachable and supportive.”
“Office hours help and willingness to help students outside of class was great benefit to learning.”
“[Dr. E] provided immediate feedback when requested.”
“[He] provided individual feedback on tests/assignments.”
“Great course with an excellent presentation by the instructor.”

The below e-mail is from a previous sophomore student at UNR. This particular student took Dr. E’s Circuits I course:

Hey Dr. E,
How do you like teaching at Virginia Tech? I imagine that it is quite a bit different than Nevada or Texas. I am emailing you to tell you that your Circuits 1 class has more than prepared me for my upper level classes here at UNR. Going into Circuits 2 with Dr. _____, all of the students that were in your Circuits 1 course had no issues what so ever. The material that we covered in your class covered basically everything up to the second Mid-term in Circuits 2. With your help I had managed to average 98% up to his 2nd Mid-term. Basically you taught us Circuits 1 and more that [sic] half of Circuits 2 in one semester. I thank you for your determination and effort that you put into teaching. You are one of the best professors that I have ever had the pleasure to learn from. UNR would benefit from having more professors like yourself. I hope you are enjoying the change.
Thanks,
_______

Homepage: http://www.yaman.ece.vt.edu/





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