Shekari Wins CTL Teaching Assistant Award
Tohid Shekari won the Online Head Teaching Assistant of the Year Award, presented by the Georgia Tech Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL). Shekari was recognized with this award at the CTL TA and Future Faculty Awards Day, which was held in a virtual format on April 21, 2021.
Shekari was honored for his work as a teaching assistant (TA) in the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE), where he teaches ECE 8813/CS 6263 Introduction to Cyber-Physical Systems Security. He has been the online head TA for this class since fall semester 2017, including during the summers, and he served as a TA once in a traditional classroom version of the course during fall 2019.
According College of Engineering Dean and ECE Professor Raheem Beyah, who is the instructor for the course, Shekari has been an ideal graduate researcher and TA. “Tohid has helped shape the course, and many of the significant improvements made to the course resulted from Tohid’s desire to give the students the best possible experience,” Beyah said.
The goal of ECE 8813/CS 6263 is to expose students to fundamental security primitives specific to cyber-physical systems and to apply them to a broad range of current and future security challenges. While much of the course is taught with the focus on industrial control systems, students are expected to generalize the concepts for other cyber-physical systems.
Students work with different tools and techniques used by hackers to compromise computer systems or otherwise interfere with normal operations. Students also use tools that are unique to interacting with cyber-physical systems. The purpose of the class is not to teach students how to become hackers, but rather to teach the approaches used by hackers so students can better defend against them.
Shekari’s students said that he is a dynamic force in the classroom. Extremely organized and very dedicated to his work, they said that he is an accessible TA who takes educating Georgia Tech students very seriously. They added that Shekari is patient, helpful, and empathetic with students and truly grasps the nature of online learning, while still being firm on the course requirements.
His students said that Shekari addressed questions and concerns quickly and was open to suggestions on how to make the class or projects better in future offerings of the course. They added that he is punctual, conscientious, and hardworking in all aspects of being the head TA and made the course simultaneously educational, challenging, fun, and fair.