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Ruyack and Ying win ECE Outstanding TA Award for 2019
Alexander Ruyack and Robin Ying have both been selected to receive the 2019 Electrical and Computer Engineering Outstanding Teaching Assistant Award. Ruyack served as the head teaching assistant during the Spring 2018 semester for ECE 2100, Introduction to Circuits for Electrical and Computer Engineers for Professor Dick Shealy. Ying served as the head teaching assistant during the Spring 2018 semester for ECE 3150, Introduction to Microelectronics for Professor Farhan Rana.
Seven ECE Ph.D. students were nominated for the TA Award in 2019. The overall number of nominations submitted along with the high quality of them all impressed the Committee tasked with selecting a winner. Both Ruyack and Ying will receive monetary awards and engraved plaques.
“One of the things I try to focus on with my teaching is the importance of bringing the material from theory and abstract ideas to actual useful applications,” said Ruyack. “Often, ECE 2100 is a student's first exposure to electrical engineering, and I think it's important to make students excited about ECE becoming their major and career. To do this, I tied the class topics to real examples that students might work on in the future. I used the design of a MEMS strain gauge from my own research and the analysis of a portable guitar amplifier I built as example problems. Bringing that amp to office hours to let students turn knobs and see how it was built from the same components they worked will all semester, really let them see what they could do with the knowledge from this class.
“Inspiring students' natural curiosity and seeing them realize what they're capable of is one of the best aspects of teaching for me,” Ruyack continued. “I will say though that I had awesome students and receiving this award would not have been possible without them and how enjoyable they made my job as a TA.”
Ruyack is a current Ph.D. student with the SonicMEMS lab of Professor Amit Lal in the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Cornell University. He received a B.S. in Materials Science and Engineering in 2013 from Cornell University. His research interests include vanishing electronics, zero-power sensors, and potential applications of graphene in micro-electro-mechanical systems (MEMS) transducers. In his spare time, Ruyack enjoys cycling, playing guitar and astrophotography.
“I have always loved teaching—whether it was tutoring for SAT, teaching percussion to kids in Costa Rica, explaining multi-variable calculus, preaching a sermon, or here, helping students develop intuition for analyzing basic circuit blocks,” said Ying. “My calling to teach was affirmed in the moment that students recognized that true learning would require of them hard work, time spent and the willingness to explore whatever their curiosity would lead them to.
“My goal was to create a learning environment conducive to the development of analytical intuition and a pleasant experience exploring the complex world of circuit design,” continued Ying. “The key components of my methodology were cultivating curiosity, clarifying misconceptions, and caring for the student’s learning. Hearing students who hated circuits from the moment they calculated their first KCL in ECE 2100 say that they wanted to continue on in analog and advanced analog because of their experience in 3150 was what made me decide that wherever God takes me next, I want to teach and develop curriculum for students that would otherwise disengage and miss out on all the fun and joy that circuit design has to offer!”
Ying is a current Ph.D. student with the Molnar Group of Associate Professor Alyosha Molnar in the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Cornell University. He received a B.S. in both Electrical Engineering and Mechanical Engineering in 2014 from Cornell University. His research interests include extremely low power radio utilizing both electrical and electro-mechanical systems as well has high-frequency radio utilizing novel circuit design techniques. Outside of his research, Robin enjoys playing volleyball and is volunteer staff with Cornell Asian American Intervarsity (AAIV Christian Fellowship).
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