$2 million gift from alumnus supports computer science undergraduate engineering education

$2 million gift from alumnus supports computer science undergraduate engineering education

We’ve all had a favorite teacher. Taner Halicioglu, a Jacobs School alumnus, had his in mind when he gave a $2 million gift to the computer science and engineering department at UC San Diego. The funds will help recruit, retain and support the professors and lecturers whose primary mission is to teach and mentor students.

“I want to give the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at UC San Diego the resources it needs to teach students and the ability to serve as many aspiring students as possible,” said Halicioglu. “These teachers truly inspire students.”

It was a lecturer who left the greatest impression on Halicioglu when he was an undergraduate majoring in computer science. He graduated from UC San Diego in 1996 with a bachelor of science and a passion for systems and data science. The lecturer was Keith Muller and he was working at ATT Labs while teaching here on campus.

“He always had an anecdote from his work life about why you wanted to know what he was teaching you,” Halicioglu recalled. “I remember a good portion of the students stayed after class and talked to him.”

Muller, who is now a Fellow and lead architect at Teradata, inspired Halicioglu to come back and teach in the department. Halicioglu

currently teaches an undergraduate seminar in computer operations and production engineering, where he imparts some of the wisdom he has gained over the years working in the tech industry. His resume includes stints at eBay, Facebook and Blizzard Entertainment, the popular video game company that created World of Warcraft, StarCraft and Diablo.

The gift comes at a time of tremendous growth for the computer science department, now the largest in the University of California system, with close to 2,200 undergraduates enrolled as of fall 2014. The department is currently ranked 7th in the United States and 11th in the world, according to U.S. News and World Report.

“Today, we are celebrating our ability — thanks to this gift — to make a financial commitment to recognize the educators who engage and inspire our students,” said Rajesh Gupta, chair of the Computer Science and Engineering Department at the Jacobs School.

Half of the gift will go to establish UC San Diego’s first-ever endowed chair for a teaching professor. This chair is named after computer science Lecturer Emeritus Paul Kube.

The other half will go to attract and retain the best lecturers, allowing them to engage more with students, mentor them and develop new courses and programs. These lecturers

build connections with undergraduates in many ways, but especially through the department’s tutor program. The department now hires nearly 1,000 tutors every year, and many are returning students who have tutored before. Tutors are stationed in undergraduate labs, where they provide one-on-one and small-group mentoring.

“We are working hard to engage all of our undergraduate computer science and engineering students in hands-on or experiential education, starting in their very first year,” said Albert P. Pisano, Dean of the Jacobs School. “I am sincerely grateful for this gift. It will help our computer science educators innovate in their classrooms and teaching labs.”

Read more: bit.ly/csegift

Give back

You too can honor your favorite teacher by donating to the CSE Teaching Endowment Fund, the CSE Engineering Tutor Program or the Paul R. Kube Chair of Computer Science.


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