I have sought to provide an environment in the classroom that promotes self-teaching and allows students to be creative. This style of teaching is partly accomplished with question and discussion opportunities during lectures. I have often received the comment that this type of activity not only helps students to stay awake during class but encourages them to learn and digest the material in order to aid them in the discussions.
I discuss many real-life applications of theoretical concepts described in class. Too often students fail to see the importance of specific concepts when they are presented. Thus, in order to better motivate the students, my experiences and experiences from others relating to the application of concepts from programming languages (CSE450,CSE452), analysis of algorithms (CSE330,CSE360), formal approaches to software engineering (CSE470,CSE814) techniques are discussed in the respective classes. I have found that real-world experiences better explain why they have to learn material not only from the class that I am teaching, but also from other classes that they have taken (or are taking).
The Computer Science field is a very exciting area with literally new technology being developed daily. While we are not able to give our students the opportunity to work with every possible new software package or computer, we, as faculty, should do our best to expose them to representative examples and the foundations of these new developments so that they are equipped with a ``toolkit'' of knowledge that will enable them to make use of the new technology.
One thing that I try to do to further help students understand the relevance of what they learn in the classroom and the real world is to incorporate industrial projects into the Software Engineering class (CSE470), as well as the capstone course. Students have found the industrial projects to be extremely useful in obtaining a realistic sense of the demands that they will face when they join the work force. In addition, the group projects help the students to learn how to leverage and synthesize different backgrounds and areas of expertise in order to meet a common goal. Our customers have found it quite useful to learn how current technology can be applied to their respective projects. Customers have included Eaton Corporation, Motorola, TCI Cable, Cargill, General Motors, and Siemens Automotive. We greatly welcome other industrial organizations to participate in our curriculum by sponsoring class projects.