Teaching Statement

I have been teaching introductory, intermediate and advanced-level computer science courses in the areas of computer systems architecture, operating systems, mobile communications, and computer networking. Over the years I'm glad to have been in the very pleasant position of being able to take full advantage of my teaching and research expertise. I have done my best to develop and improve viable and reliable methodologies and techniques for the delivery of learning in the classroom. Every semester now I teach 2 hours practical course on Computer Networks, managing each course project towards a successful open source prototype implementation or experimental demonstration (with performance study whenever possible), and help the students to gain project experience and presentation of the results in talks and technical reports. Every another semester I teach a graduate level research seminar on advanced topics in computer networking (each summer semester) and mobile communications (each winter semester), alternatively. These seminars aim at directing the students towards sort of researcher by doing  research training, paper reading and course projects. In addition, every winter semester I teach an intermediate level Computer Networks course, facilitating students with a common understanding of computer networks especially the fundamental principles, architecture and concepts of networking technology and distributed systems. All these courses are new courses that enrich the curriculum at the University of Goettingen and they can be found in my homepage.

Besides, I supervise a number of students for their bachelor theses, student projects and master theses, in addition to several Ph.D. candidates. At the end of each project the students presented their work, answered my questions for evaluation and wrote final reports. From weekly and ad hoc interactions with students and sharing vicariously in their excitement of learning, as well as learning new things for myself I get a great deal of satisfaction. I try to take care to treat my students with respect and give them the personal attention that they deserve. I also try to treat them fairly, but I insist that they put forth an honest effort and adhere to the tenets of academic honesty. I make every effort to assist my students in obtaining credits or grades for their work. Through individual conversions between myself and my students, I understand more precisely what do they think, and how can we improve towards a successful course or project. For example, many students here, regardless of their major, are a little fearful of speaking and writing in English, especially when they start to work with technical issues. Therefore, during the conservations I encouraged the student to have a good feeling about his English and just think about the concepts and contents to be discussed, not be afraid of "unprofessionally" talking about the subject or of me as a teacher.

I strongly believe that teaching and supervising students is one of the most challenging and integral part of academic life. However, it is also one of the most fruitful activities, because I have seen that discussing and interacting with students often leads to exploring new and unforeseen topics and research directions.  This is even more evident when supervising students during their student projects or bachelor/master theses. In my opinion, there are two fundamental aspects in teaching: to motivate and to communicate the knowledge to other people. Motivation is a key issue in knowledge transfer as a motivated student wants to explore new issues and tackle new frontiers. I believe most students are motivated per se. It is up to an instructor to not de-motivate them. For example, explaining complicated issues in a dull way de-motivates. Therefore, I always try to carefully organize presentations and lectures in such a way that complicated issues are dramatically simplified and become much easier to understand, in particular by showing real examples or own experiences. It is always my feeling that students must first understand the ideas behind a technical approach before presenting the approach itself. Also, it is important to always motivate an approach by e.g. pointing to shortcomings of other related topics the student already should know from previous lectures. And finally, I always try to find an analogy with procedures in everyday's life that students are familiar with.

There are two important aspects of every computer science curriculum: training students to be good programmers and good researchers. Therefore, students should get the opportunity to build a solid foundation and gain learning skills that allow them to acquire new knowledge on their own. It is vital that students first understand fundamental concepts, principles and algorithms of computer science and networking. This way the student should be able to understand not only the immediate features and interactions of their programs but also the long-term implications of their design decisions and tradeoffs that may arise. Only after a solid understanding of fundamental concepts, the students are able to see how these concepts manifest themselves in practical applications and how the concepts can be extended to conduct research. In my seminars, I always try to stimulate students to identify and look at problems and find effective solutions. When a particular solution is found, it will be discussed in the class and we try to look at the problem from a slightly different viewpoint. This enables students to compare solutions and analyze the trade-offs. And finally, only the thorough understanding of the foundations of computing and networking may help students to keep their jobs later, when the technology changes and the skills tied to particular tools or mechanisms of today cease to be relevant.

I believe that learning is not only important for students during their education. We must all participate in the process of life long learning to expand the personal horizon in order to be a successful researcher. In order to do so, I am committed to improve my own teaching performance based on feedback that I receive from students and colleagues. I am working with other colleagues at the University of Goettingen to enrich the teaching program by offering regular and/or new courses to the curriculum. In all my endeavors, I will continue to adequately prepare my students for the changing world they will face, and to serve their needs for higher academic or vocational education.

Last update: November 2005