ECE teaching assistant earns campus award for TAs
In a coup of sorts for MU engineering students taking Circuit Theory II through the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department this past semester, both the course instructor, Professor Bob O’Connell, and the teaching assistant (TA), Adel Alturki, received teaching awards. O’Connell won a prestigious Kemper teaching award, and Alturki received a TA Choice Award from the Missouri Students Association (MSA).
“It’s a good coincidence,” Alturki said. “I went in to congratulate Dr. O’Connell, and few days later told him that I also won.”
Organized semi-annually by MSA, the Choice Awards give students a chance to recognize TAs for “their dedication, hard work and for exceeding expectations.” Alturki was honored for his thoroughness in covering information required in the course’s accompanying lab and for his patience and willingness to help students to understand the material.
“Adel has made my experience at Mizzou more interesting because of how he explains labs and their correlation to practical use,” wrote one of his nominators who added that he or she hoped to be able to work with Adel in the future.
Another, who ranked Adel at the best ever TA, wrote, “In one of our more recent labs, the material was especially difficult. Adel took the time at the beginning to clearly explain everything in a way that everyone would understand and be able to complete the lab. He has always done this.”
Alturki came to MU from Saudi Arabia to work on his doctorate in electrical and computer engineering in the systems and computational neuroscience lab of Professor Satish Nair.
“We are trying to understand the dynamics of some neural circuitries in the brain,” he said. “I am working on a project looking at cocaine addiction, trying to understand the mechanisms involved in relapse to drug use. As modelers, we build biologically realistic computational models and do thorough investigations to come up with insights that could shed some light on such neurobiological phenomena.
“There has been progress in the last decade or two, but it really is at the beginning,” he added.
This is Alturki’s fourth year at Mizzou, but it is the first year he has served as a TA. His position in Nair’s lab is financially sponsored by the Saudi government, but, he said, one of the best reasons to serve as a TA is for the teaching experience as he will be a university professor in Saudi Arabia once he completes his doctorate.
“I enjoy teaching. You feel you are contributing,” Alturki said. “And when you are contributing, it makes you feel satisfied.” One added benefit, he noted, is that teaching relieves some of the stress of working on his Ph.D.
Alturki said he never expected to receive an award for his teaching but said it really helped that he had such a great group of students who were a major partner of this success.
“And I would like to thank [ECE Resident Instructor] Jim Fischer,” he added. “Whatever I ask him, he always has the answer and the time. He has helped me a lot.”