The Alan J. Perlis SCS Student Teaching Award
School of Computer Science, Carnegie Mellon University
Pittsburgh PA 15213-3891
(412)268-8525 . (412)268-5576 (fax)


Shusaku Uesugi, 2010

To my students from Concepts F'08 & RPG F'09,

"Kore kara nanio surun dai? Bokuwa mo ikana kya..."

Lyrics from one of my favorite Japanese songs. It means "I have to go now, but what is your plan?"

Before you graduate, I challenge all of you to do something that no one has ever done. It doesn't have to be perfect. But don't repeat someone else. Tell a story that no one has ever told. Create a product that makes people go, "wow." Come up with an idea that's not yet called computer science, and call it computer science. Make something that you can proudly show to your future family fifteen years later. Be crazy, because at Carnegie Mellon, you can.

Don't listen to people who try to stop you. You have no idea how much I fought to expand my RPG class size from 50 to 70 so that everyone could be enrolled. Don't be fooled by part time jobs that don't get you anywhere. Money is not that important. Don't be discouraged even if you don't know C++. It's not that good of a resume booster. Don't be sad when you pulled an all nighter with your friends for an exam just to fail miserably. You will forget what you got on the exam, but you will never forget the times you shared with your friends, watching Youtube videos instead of studying. Don't whine that you are not so special, or there's nothing special you can do. No one is ever special until he or she tries to be.

Do take teaching seriously, if you ever become a teacher. Respect your students. Remember all of your students' names before the first day of class. Prepare for at least 6 hours for each lecture. Say thank you at the end of every lecture, and really mean it. Grade students' homework assignments before you do your home- work. Plan to stay for 3 extra hours after your office hours. Make things easy to remember for students at all costs; I ended up telling my embarrassing love story to explain induction love, a technique I made up to work through tough induction steps. Communicate, communicate, communicate, even outside the class! Send lots of emails until they have to make a separate label "From My TA" on their inbox. Then constantly but casually ask them for feedback. Be their friend and awkwardly say hi when you see your students on a dance floor.

Finally, when you start something cool, do seek your friends' help. That's what the RPG yearbook was for. I believe in you!

P.S. I am honored to have worked as a TA under professor [John] Mackey. He is the best professor I met, hands down, and I would not have received this award without his support. I am hopeful that CMU will continue to produce amazing groups of CS students while Dr. Mackey is teaching with his loud voice, in front of a blackboard, with his polo shirt on.

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