Celebrating Teaching Assistants in MAS

2020 Spring

During these uncertain times, we would like to thank the Teaching Assistants that helped make the transition to remote teaching for their respective courses. Below are a few quotes about the amazing work they accomplished.

Karsten Schuhl, Hannah Lienhard, and Manaswi Mishra

I made the unusual decision of asking three first-year master's students in our Opera of the Future group—Karsten Schuhl, Hannah Lienhard, and Manaswi Mishra—to  serve as TA’s for my spring term ’20 course: Sound: Past and Future. I usually work with a single TA, or sometimes none at all. This past semester, I knew that we would  be covering a fair amount of historical material—studying the revolutionary post-WWII period when electronic music was invented and all traditional rules for music were  broken—and would need to connect that knowledge to practical concepts and techniques that students could use principles learned to create boldly innovative projects. And  of course no one could have predicted that the class would have to go completely online halfway through the semester. Karsten, Hannah, and Manaswi rose to these challenges,  and then some. They helped to pull together historical archive material—writings, musical scores, rare recordings and videos, etc.—for the first half of the class, assisting me in deciding how to cull and present this all in the most relevant ways. When our class went online, they worked tirelessly with me to invent a totally new structure—and fresh content—for the class, concentrating on studying the quickly emerging field of remote musical collaboration. The three of them researched top innovations worldwide in a scene  that changed daily, found and developed state-of-the-art tools to conduct our classes and to create projects, helped to shape each class session as we experimented with  different formats, and spent considerable time advising class members in concepts and techniques for each week’s assignment as well as for the final class projects. Through all of this, Karsten, Hannah, and Manaswi exhibited creativity, open-mindedness, determination, rigor, and emotional stability during a most difficult time. They helped to structure a very unusual and—I think—highly successful final class “performance,” totally online (of course), quirky and innovative in character, and deeply supportive of each class member’s individual style and personal contribution. Beyond all of the logistical and content-based support that all three TAs contributed this semester, they also collaborated with each other in exemplary fashion, and became a true team, without whom I never could have led this surprisingly unusual class.
—Tod Machover

Manuj Dhariwal, Shruti Dhariwal, Lily Gabaree, Sean Hickey, and Carmelo Presicce

This semester, my Lifelong Kindergarten research group organized two experimental half-semester courses, focused on the theme of “microworlds,” a topic we’ve been exploring within our group. Several of my graduate students participated as teaching assistants: Manuj Dhariwal, Shruti Dhariwal, Lily Gabaree, Sean Hickey, and Carmelo Presicce. The courses would not have been possible without them. They were more than teaching assistants: they were full partners in facilitating the courses. They played major roles in conceptualizing the courses, planning the weekly classes, developing sample projects, and supporting the other students in the course. As the courses went virtual, they helped to develop new strategies for organizing our class sessions and new ways to support projects remotely. I am incredibly grateful to my graduate students for always being willing to experiment, iterate, and generously share their time and ideas.  
—Mitch Resnick

Randi Williams

Randi Williams was the most awesome TA ever for MAS.s65/6.s898 Democratizing AI through K12 Education for All. She added tremendous value to this course and to the student experience. We used Piazza for our class management software. She often posted really thoughtful comments on student postings and homeworks. She was completely on top of sending out timely class communications about new postings on Piazza, important deadlines. She participated and supported in our in-class discussions during project-based and team-based sessions. And she was truly a star when we had to move everything virtual. Thanks to Randi’s efforts, she made sure that we could use zoom effectively to support the collaborative, team-based style of the class. Her enthusiasm and positive comments were always inspiring to the students. Total rock star.
—Cynthia Breazeal

Teja Jammalamadaka

Teja Jammalamadaka has served as the lead teaching assistant for the MAS graduate course "How To Grow (Almost) Anything" for the past two years, and has done so with an abundance of passion, innovation, dedication, and joy. Teja brings an infectious energy and enthusiasm to his teaching, and is an inspiration for not only the students, but also for his TA peers and faculty instructors. Thank you, Teja, for all of your hard work, creativity, and leadership! HTGAA wouldn’t be possible without you!
—David Kong

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