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Agah Earns Teaching Excellence Award

August 23, 2011

EECS Professor Arvin Agah received a surprise visit from KU Provost Jeffrey Vitter and other dignitaries who presented him with a Kemper Fellowship for Teaching Excellence and a $7,500 check during his Mobile Robotics course on Tuesday.

EECS graduate student Marianne Jantz, who had Agah for Software Engineering (EECS 448) as an undergraduate, is now taking his Mobile Robotics course.

“Dr. Agah's classes are always extremely enjoyable,” Jantz said. “He has the ability to impart his knowledge and expertise, while keeping his students both interested and smiling.”

Andrea Valdivia had Agah for Software Engineering in 2008. Students worked in small teams to develop a Nintendo DS game, which she said was a great conversation starter during internship interviews. Valdivia said the career-oriented course showcased Agah’s strong industry background and his passion for software development. 

“Professor Agah's Software Engineering class was one of my favorites at KU!  It was an extremely hands-on course that gave students a flavor of what it is like to develop solutions for real-world scenarios,” said Valdivia who graduated in May and is working at the Goldman Sachs world headquarters in New York. “His enthusiastic teaching has made a lasting impression on me and certainly countless others.”

Mark Calnon has returned to KU this fall to begin his doctorate work under the direction of Agah. As an EECS graduate student in 2008, Calnon and other students wanted to participate in the Space Robotics Challenge. Agah created a special topics course for the students and helped them write grant proposals to fund the project and present it at the International Conference on Robotics and Automation.

“Professor Agah has a true desire to see his students succeed. Whether assisting students with their research or encouraging students to participate in educational outreach, Professor Agah is always willing to spend as much time and effort as necessary to provide his students with opportunities to grow both academically and personally,” Calnon said.

The Kemper fellowships recognize 10 outstanding teachers and advisers at KU as determined by a seven-member selection committee. Now in their 16th year, the awards are supported by an annual gift of from the William T. Kemper Foundation (Commerce Bank, trustee) and matching funds from KU Endowment. Agah is the eighth EECS professor to receive a Kemper award.

Agah joined the EECS faculty in 1997. He spearheaded the new Bachelor of Science in Interdisciplinary Computing program and served as associate chair for graduate studies from 2005-2009. He conducts artificial intelligence and robotics research at KU’s Information and Telecommunication Technology Center.

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