Favorite writing - Motivation for Teaching and Research

Favorite writing - Motivation for Teaching and Research

Oct 24, 2021 9:03 PM

I wrote this as an application to a teaching workshop that got cancelled because of COVID-19. I wrote this with a lot of passion and I believe this is one of my best writing samples. Every time I read this, its puts a smile on my face.

I remember the words of the Provost of the University of Minnesota on the first day as a Ph.D. student at the Welcome Orientation “You get 5 years of your life to think big, fail big and make a lasting impact. Make the best use of it.” This is my fourth year in the Ph.D. program and these words cannot be truer. Every time I feel low, I remember the opportunity to explore the craziest of ideas with exceptional mentors, opportunity to stand on top and contribute to the work built by giants of researchers, opportunity to teach and inspire many others through my teaching and research. Academic research is frustrating, especially for a Ph.D. student, yet rewarding in the long term. The thought of working in an academic area for decades, grappling with problems that are hard, making progress every week, communicate complex things in a simple way to other researchers and students, getting those small wins like obtaining that result or finding evidence for your hypothesis is what makes me excited about an academic career in both short and long term.

I had formal training as an Aerospace Engineer in my Bachelor’s degree and I am an engineer at heart. Quantitative research and Teaching interest me the most. I discovered my love for teaching at Google Inc. where I worked as a Data Scientist. What started as an informal training of Google’s data structures and tools to some of my teammates quickly became a full-fledged tutorial series on the entire Google Data stack that I delivered in three different countries. This is one aspect that made working at Google rewarding. When I got admitted to the Ph.D. program, the opportunity to teach a full class was the icing on the cake. I taught Data Modeling and Databases to Undergraduate students in MIS specialization. While I had experience teaching SQL before, teaching to 40 students with high variance in every aspect (interest levels, coding skills, attention span, ability to grasp new concepts) was a very challenging task. However, this is one of the most fulfilling aspects of my Ph.D. program. I have always believed that education is the solution to many problems that our society faces at large and Teaching is one of the noblest of professions. My main mission for teaching is to make sure that students have help with every aspect of the course and access to every resource needed to succeed.

During the first two years of my Ph.D., I had an opportunity to be a Teaching Assistant to three Business Analytics Masters’ courses (Exploratory Data Analysis, Time Series, Bayesian Data Analysis) at the University of Minnesota. While I had first-hand experience working with both Professors and Students, I was always curious to learn about how the curriculum for the Masters’ program was designed to suit the requirements of the specific subgroup of students applying to the University. Given the course duration of just one year, I always wondered how to transition a student with minimal previous experience to a Master in Business analytics. Through this workshop, I also hope to understand what the main mission of a Business Analytics program should be, what inter-personal skills does an Instructor of Business Analytics program require, how to motivate and teach the concepts of Business Analytics with application to Industry in mind, how to teach to students with variety of backgrounds and high variance in their familiarity with concepts. I also wish to learn from the experiences of the workshop speakers, interact with my fellow attendees and share my knowledge in order to make this a successful program.

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