I have been a part of EECS16A course staff for a whole ten semesters, of which, a few I spent as Head Lab TA, and a few as Lab Content TA. Before this position, I have lab assisted for CS61A, EE16A, and then promoted to lab teaching assistant. Many peers have asked what sort of responsibilities I had as Head Lab TA, knowing that this is not a common position for courses to have. My job description is vague, but the overarching goal is to improve labs and make sure the students learn from them. This includes but is not limited to: organizing a BOM for the students’ kits, lecturing about lab material, maintaining lab equipment status, debugging students’ labs, managing the grading infrastructure, and most importantly, developing labs for future semesters. In short, the job description is “Make it work, but better”. I worked closely with graduate students and professors that have taught EECS16A to help guide the direction of the course. Aside from that, I have written midterm and final problems, proctored exams, and trained TAs and lab assistants weekly for upcoming labs.
So why EECS16A? I have spent almost my entire college career with EE16A, from taking the first public offering of the course as a first semester freshman, to lab assisting, and then to TAing the course for 9 semesters straight, including the two sans-professor summer offerings in 2017 and 2020. It has been a pleasure to watch the course mature and adapt to many students’ wishes and staffs’ passion. This course, being so young, was very open to students who wanted to make a lasting impact, and to further improve the quality of education that we could provide. This really drew me in, and kept me from moving on to different courses. My personal influence was mostly rooted in the labs, being Head Lab Ta for 4 semesters, fixing and improving the labs with different professors and graduate students that came and went.
The Imaging module went from a slow, dysfunctional solar cell setup with a poorly written multi-pixel scanner to a cleaner photodiode setup that was fast, and featured a more complex and robust Hadamard-based approach to multi-pixel scanning. Then came the Touchscreen module and its overstuffed moonshot labs, filled with coding in a language we didn’t know how to teach, breadboarding circuits they only just learned without knowing how a breadboard or ICs work, and tons of first time soldering. The module was again trimmed to prepare the students step by step to be able to use lab benches and prototype properly. Lastly, the Acoutic Positioning System (APS) module (formerly known as the Locationing Module), had its back end completely overhauled to be faster and much more predictable. We had some wild ideas such as trying to use the lab space as the center for locationing with a bit of success, and settled on a smaller setup that would work consistently.
It’s been a great ten semesters for me, and it’s finally time to put a close on this arc. During my last semester as a student, I was awarded the Outstanding GSI award, which lead me to participate in the Teaching Effectiveness Award essay contest, for which I submitted an essay about 16A. You can read my short essay about lab inclusivity here where I briefly discuss the some of the many changes that I implemented in the course.
I have done private tutoring since 2012, when I was a sophomore in high school. Ever since, I have had many clients of varying ages coming to me for a range of subjects. While private tutoring started off as a means for me to make a bit of money during high school, it soon grew into something much bigger as I learned over the many months and years how much I enjoy teaching. The beauty of private tutoring is how well one gets to learn the study habits and ways the student absorbs knowledge. None of my students were the same, and I approached teaching every student differently – some enjoyed rigorous drilling with me critiquing their each step along the way, while others wanted a small lesson before walking through smaller problems. Regardless of their learning style, I was blessed to have such great students who were so willing to learn from me. We would often have conversation not school related as well, from small life advice to big dreams and goals. Ever since I started university, I have not had much opportunity to give one on one tutoring, and it is something I do miss.
Nao I. September 2012 – June 2015 | 8th to 10th grade