Tomas Lozano-Pérez receives MIT's top undergrad teaching honor

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Tomas Lozano-Pérez receives MIT's top undergrad teaching honor
Jason Dorfman, CSAIL

Tomas Lozano-Pérez was one of five professors to be named to the MacVicar Faculty Fellows Program, MIT's top undergraduate teaching honor.

Every year, the program recognizes a handful of professors who are exceptional undergraduate teachers, educational innovators, and mentors.

Lozano-Pérez, the School of Engineering Professor of Teaching Excellence in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, has been a research scientist at CSAIL since 1980, when it was known as the AI Lab. He served as associate head of the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from 1998 to 2001, and was named the School of Engineering Professor of Teaching Excellence in 2009.

“I love helping students learn,” Lozano-Pérez says. “It’s incredibly rewarding. For the last 15 years I’ve been exploring how to blend computer-based tools with personal interaction to help students learn. It’s exciting to see so much recent activity in this area at MIT.”

Lozano-Pérez’s experimentation with online learning has been groundbreaking, according to his peers. “In 1999, way before the online education craze, he spearheaded a revolution in 6.001,” one colleague said, developing an online tutoring system and a new teaching strategy emphasizing small, interactive recitations coupled with innovative online lectures. It was such a novel approach that Lozano-Pérez “didn’t have a name for the style; now we would call it a ‘flipped classroom.’”

Another colleague described Lozano-Pérez as “a superb educator: He is one of the most innovative and deepest thinkers about pedagogy and curriculum at the Institute.” His commitment to students, the colleague added, “creates a learning environment … that has an enormous impact on students’ knowledge, but also their self-confidence.”

“He is upbeat, has a … sense of humor, and has a magical ability to present complicated material in a clear and understandable manner,” wrote one student. Another found Lozano-Pérez’s passion for solving problems inspiring, adding that he creates a learning environment where students “are not intimidated” and “feel worthy,” which makes them “curious and courageous.” 

For more on the other winners: http://bit.ly/1p0Btoj