Inspiring Teacher: Jeremy Straub, assistant professor of computer science
Published April 2019
WHAT DO YOU LIKE BEST ABOUT TEACHING?
I’ve really enjoyed when our cybersecurity and robotics teams have done really well at national competitions. Both types of competitions take a lot of work and the students are really excited when it all pays off and they win. I also really enjoy hearing from students when they come back from interviews and talk about how one of the projects or competition teams became the predominant topic of conversation for most of the interview, and they think it helped them get the job.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE CLASS OR TOPIC TO TEACH?
My favorite courses are the ones where students get really excited about the topic. Courses on robotics, artificial intelligence and, most recently, cybersecurity are consistently among the most engaging for students. You know when you’re teaching one of these courses because the students have a lot of questions about the topic that go far beyond the course. In a lot of cases, they also go beyond course requirements, trying to explore the topic more on their own.
HOW DO YOU KNOW YOU’VE SUCCEEDED WITH A STUDENT OR A CLASS?
I really feel like I’ve succeeded when students tell me how they used what they’ve learned – in class, working on a project or competing on a team – in their life outside of school. In a lot of cases, this will be working as an intern, on a job interview or starting in their professional career. It’s also great to hear from students about how excited their parents are about something they’ve done at the university as part of class or as an extracurricular activity.
WHAT IS THE MOST COMMON TRAIT OR TRAITS OF SUCCESSFUL STUDENTS?
The students that end up being the most successful generally come to class ready to explore the subject. They try to find ways that they can apply what they’re learning to their everyday life and to their career aspirations. Typically, these students go above and beyond the requirements, seeking additional knowledge about the topics being discussed in class.
WHAT IS SOMETHING EVERY STUDENT SHOULD EXPERIENCE BEFORE THEY GRADUATE?
I would encourage every student to participate in some sort of student organization and join a competition team of some kind. There are numerous student organizations on all kinds of topics and they are a great way for students to meeting and interact with others – particularly those studying in other areas – with similar interests.