By Kayla Chen
UC San Diego Computer Science and Engineering Department (CSE) Assistant Teaching Professor Joe Politz has been recognized with the prestigious Distinguished Teaching Award by the UC San Diego Academic Senate for his tireless work and dedication to his students. This award is given to five members of the Academic Senate, three non-Senate faculty members and three graduate students every year.
“I am so excited to see Joe Politz be recognized with this prestigious award. He is a fantastic teacher whose originality, energy, and genuine care for students is an inspiration to us all,” said CSE Department Chair Sorin Lerner. “I am also excited that our CSE teaching faculty have been recognized with this university-wide award for the second year in a row!”
Politz along with the other recipients were recognized at a reception with the UC San Diego Chancellor May 25.
“This award is a credit to the longstanding culture of high-quality teaching that I've been lucky to find in CSE,” Politz said. “ I'm grateful for all the collaboration on courses and curriculum I've been able to do with the CSE community.”
Politiz discovered his passion for teaching while at Brown University. He received his undergraduate degree from the Worcester Polytechnic Institute and then went on to Brown University for his graduate work. At Brown he began as a web programming and programming languages researcher, but after a few years he made the critical decision to become a TA. Finding himself thoroughly enjoying the teaching process, Politz decided to switch the focus of his dissertation to computing education. He never looked back.
During his past few years at UC San Diego, Politz has taught his way through the entire computer science curriculum in order to get a thorough firsthand picture of what students experience in the CSE program. This ranges from non-major courses for folks curious about CS to discrete math, to core programming and data structures courses. Besides these lower division courses, he also instructs senior level and graduate compilers courses, which focus on creating and improving programming languages.
When asked about his favorite part of teaching, Politz said, “Lots of things! One of the most impactful things is hearing from students that something they learned in my classes showed up in their work or helped them accomplish something in another context. We put a lot of effort into making our courses and projects teach fundamental concepts through practical applications. Seeing that pay off is always gratifying.”
Ultimately, Politz sees his students as inspiring. And the admiration and respect that he has for his students is reflected in the thoughtfulness in the design of his courses, and ultimately in his recognition as one of the recipients of UC San Diego’s Distinguished Teacher Award.
“They come from all kinds of backgrounds, work hard, and take advantage of the opportunities in our classes. Teaching is important to me because it’s the most direct way I can use what I know to support them,” he said.