Three ORFE Professors Receive Student-Selected Excellence in Teaching Awards

Feb. 24, 2020

ORFE Professor Amir Ali Ahmadi, Assistant Professor Miklos Racz, and Associate Professor Ramon van Handel received Excellence in Teaching Awards for their undergraduate classes. These awards were established in 1998 by the student run Engineering Council, and were the first awards at Princeton University chosen solely by students.  

Professor Miklos Racz received his first E-Council teaching award for ORF 350, Analysis of Big Data.  Georgy Noarov ’20 presented Professor Racz the award highlighting the fact that this was the first time Professor Racz had ever taught this class.  He noted that "ORF 350 with Prof Racz has a nice mix of theory and applications. Prof Racz's homework and exam questions are never mechanical or boring: he frequently asks to apply algorithms discussed in class to interesting and meaningful datasets, and to interpret the results'', and that "Prof Racz has taught courses on a wide range of topics, making him an educator of outstanding breadth.''

For the third year Professor Ahmadi has received this award for his ORF 363 class, Computing and Optimization for the Physical and Social Sciences.   Jivahn Moradian ’20 presented Professor Ahmadi with the award, emphasizing Prof. Ahmadi’s dedication to the class: "Despite having created an exceptional course, [he] still makes a sustained effort to improve it even further by sending out periodic surveys to the class and adjusting the pace according to the responses. His lectures are clear, well-structured, and fun to attend.''

This was Professor van Handel’s second award for ORF 309, and he has also received this award for two other ORFE classes. It was also presented by Jivahn, who regaled the audience with a few captivating examples of problem sets Professor van Handel created, for instance:  "Before taking ORF 309, I never met a teacher whose exam questions can get you to smile while taking them. His second midterm exam focused on the plagues of Egypt, and required students to calculate the probability that each of the 10 plagues happens exactly once before the Israelites leave Egypt, and to find the expected number of years the Israelites wander in the wilderness before reaching Israel. Prof. Van Handel's solution was 34 years, which is 15% less than Moses accomplished, so if Prof. Van Handel lived at the time of the plagues, the Israelites would not only have reached their destination 6 years earlier, but also would have had a much more enjoyable trek.''