Junior Faculty Spotlight: Uttam Ghosh
Each month, the CFT Newsletter highlights the work of our Junior Faculty Teaching Fellows. This month, Uttam Ghosh, Electrical Engineering & Computer Science, talks about his teaching philosophy and interests.
I am an Assistant Professor of the Practice in EECS Department at Vanderbilt University since 2018. I obtained my PhD and Master of Science (by Research) both from Department of E&ECE, Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur, India in 2013 and 2009 respectively. I have postdoctoral experiences at ADSC (A unit of University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign), Singapore, Fordham University and Tennessee State University. My research mainly focused on cybersecurity and advanced networking. I am teaching Computer Organization, Operating System and Computer Networks.
Research and teaching are not two separate entities for me rather one complements another. In research, I believe on system building and teaching is nothing but nurturing the skills and qualities to be a good builder of systems. In my view, a teacher is successful if he/she can successfully prepare students for careers in engineering or systems research, entails fostering some basic aptitudes; strong implementation/troubleshooting skills, independent, creative, analytic thinking, effective communication. I aim to cultivate these basic skills in my students in classroom and most effectively in one-on-one mentoring. For me, teacher is embodiment of God and therefore I wish to set an example of morality as well as career perspectives to all these young and bright minds and make them ready for stepping into the real-world. It is a joy of giving the true values of life at the initial stages of their journey. Moreover, I want to consider myself as a student as all interaction and day to day experience provide me a platform for improving my own skills both in terms of expressing myself as well as be a great source of research ideas.
Computer science is a combination of theory, mathematics and practical field. Based on my own experience and from the feedback provided by students and attendees of different courses, I trust that students are keener on a hands-on experience in building small systems or working through problems rather than just a theoretical treatment of the subject. The impact of a hands-on experience and joy of making products stay for a much longer time. I would also like to keep in things in mind while I design a new course flexible. I would like to evaluate my students progressively over the semester through assignments, projects, and quizzes rather than just through tests, also, sometimes, conventional test can be replaced with writing a research paper or a major project. In an advance course, students are more dependent on web rather than class, a teacher should play the role of pied-piper by indoctrinating the joy of learning the various concepts and techniques. To facilitate this, I will keep my classes interactive. I will also introduce discussion sessions on open-ended topics. I would also like to invite guest lecturers or do a field trip for my courses whenever possible. I believe a student can more relate with his/her mentor than a conventional teacher. Lastly, I will ensure that my grading system does not penalize students for doing more exploratory work rather than a results-oriented work.