2020 Computer Science End of Year Award Winners

Congratulations to our outstanding students for their achievements during the 2019-2020 academic year!


    2020 Louis T. Rader Undergraduate Teaching Award Winner: Alex Lehmann

    May 13, 2020

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    About Alex, Computer Science Major:

    I love TAing for algorithms and hope to pursue a professorship in computer science one day. In my free time, I play board games, and go hiking in the Shenandoah National Park.


    2020 Louis T. Rader Undergraduate Teaching Award Winner: Cameron Lloyd

    May 13, 2020

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    About Cameron:

    I am a Computer Science student in the engineering school class of 2020. I enjoyed being a teaching assistant for a variety of computer science courses, including CS 2150 (Program and Data Representation), CS 4102 (Algorithms), CS 3102 (Theory of Computation), and CS 4501 (Markets, Mechanisms, and Machines). While I certainly can’t choose a single favorite, TA’ing these classes allowed me to revisit the material and engage with it in a way that furthered the understanding I had as a student in each class. As a student in each class, I appreciated having office hours as a resource to help with homework and better grasp the concepts. I wanted to be able to provide the encouragement and support to students, and hope I was able to do so while making office hours and review sessions fun and engaging. My favorite classes at UVa were Internet Scale Applications, Markets Mechanisms, and Machines (MMM), Cloud Computing, and Algorithms. I love to build web and mobile applications (especially iOS) and hope to do so in my career!

    Outside of my coursework, I enjoyed going on hiking and mountain biking adventures with Outdoors Club, and racing cross country and track races with Club Running! After graduation, I will be joining Microsoft as a Software Engineer for iOS applications.

    What has kept Cameron motivated:

    Recently, I’ve tried to mix in new hobbies to my day as motivation to get my work done. Watercolor painting has been a rewarding outlet and I hope to do more over the summer! Additionally, Reframing success and productivity in terms of what I am able to do now instead of what I was able to do previously has also helped relieve anxieties and encourage me to try my best.


    2020 Louis T. Rader Undergraduate Teaching Award Winner: Jason Ashley

    May 13, 2020

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    About Jason

    I am a third year studying both Computer Science and Computer Engineering. If I had to choose a subject within those fields, I would say I am interested in cybersecurity and am working on projects exploring that to varying degrees in embedded devices.

    I tinker with any piece of software or hardware at my fingertips, very often too much for my own good, leading to breaking some of these things. This is not necessarily a problem, it just creates a new challenge: how do I fix what I broke? My next project is really building some software for a watch that has been wiped clean. We'll say that was done intentionally.

    When not working with anything like this, I enjoy all kinds of movies (though there is definitely a tendency towards sci-fi) and sharing those movies with others. When not holed up at home, you can find me at live music events all around town or, if nothing else is going on, just exploring Charlottesville.

    What has kept Jason motivated:

    Surprisingly, I have started getting a little more organized, specifically by actually putting up a dry erase board I've had sitting around for a while and updating it daily. I believe this has helped keep me at least somewhat on track for some of my classes and other projects I have going on at any given point. I've also been trying to stay in contact with as many people as I can through voice, video, or just text chats on a regular basis. As the semester ends and I begin remote work for the summer, I am also planning out several projects I can do in the evenings or during the weekends to learn new things or expand on some ideas I've seen in classes.


    2020 Louis T. Rader Undergraduate Teaching Award Winner: Mike Ferguson

    May 13, 2020

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    About Mike:

    I am a rising fourth year with a passion for exploring the frontiers of science. I created a student taught class, CS 1501: Artificial General Intelligence, completely by scratch and turned it into a highly successful and rewarding lecture series. The course looks at the intersection of cognitive science, AI, and philosophy, while covering concepts of minds, brains, superintelligence, and what it means to be human.

    I enjoy working out, guitar, writing, political activism, and reading literature, as well as well being a "Book a Week Challenge" participant for 2 years, totaling over 100 books. I plan to move to Stockholm, Sweden after graduation to work as a machine learning engineer and travel Europe, in order to experience all that I can. Afterwards, I hope to attend graduate school for a computer science Ph.D. to further research cognitive architectures and artificial general intelligence. I have an adopted Border Collie, Shadow, my best bud whom I love very much, along with my girlfriend and life partner, Kendall.

    What has kept Mike motivated:

    What inspires me is a hard question to answer. I would say it is the drive to leave humanity better then I found it, the pursuit of unknown frontiers of science though AGI research, and the pursuit of a fulfilling life and a lasting legacy. I try to find happiness in small things, from cooking something I cannot pronounce, looking at the incredible intricacy of a honeybee, or simply laying in the grass with my dog. I have realized life is short, and that it is way too short to worry about GPA or status. Our humanity and gift of consciousness is what unites us all, and that is something we should not forget- especially in these times. I keep asking myself the big questions of life, and maybe, just maybe, I will eventually find an answer. This searching for knowledge is an incredibly humbling and profound endeavor, and what I would say is my primary motivation and source of meaning.

    “The mystery of life isn't a problem to solve, but a reality to experience.” ― Frank Herbert, Dune


    2020 Louis T. Rader Undergraduate Teaching Award Winner: Nadia Aisha Hassan

    May 13, 2020

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    About Nadia:

    My name is Nadia Hassan, and I’m a 3rd year in the Engineering School. I’m from Richmond, VA but I lived in Michigan for over 10 years. Two fun facts about me are I’m a Bangladeshi-American, and I'm a makeup artist and a graffiti artist!

    When it comes to my academic interests, I am currently the Head TA of CS 1112 taught by Professor Jim Cohoon, and I've had so much fun TAing this course for the past four semesters. I didn't have experience with CS coming into UVA, and I had initially failed my first CS exam. I didn't want to let my first failure discourage me from pursuing CS, so I saw it as an opportunity to work harder to learn CS throughout the years and build my confidence and potential in my field. I don't believe that grades define any student's success in a field, and I always encourage my friends and students I TA for to pursue their individual passions so that they also feel confident in themselves and content with what they choose. Now, I've reached a point where my TA position, my courses, and my first internship as a developer solidified my love for web application development and my goal of becoming a full-stack developer. I believe there is no limit to what I can do with my major, so I'm so excited for the opportunities in the future!

    What has kept Nadia motivated:

    During this pandemic, I believe that mental health is my top priority so that I can be motivated to succeed academically and personally. This time is very rare and stressful, and it impacts everyone differently. It's important to take a breath and validate my feelings and stress by reminding myself that it’s okay to be feeling everything I'm feeling. I believe that giving myself breaks and reminding my friends and family to take care of themselves both physically and mentally are important, and I feel grateful for being able to reach out and connect to them more. I'm continuously inspired by my parents, Shamima Deeba and Mohammed Khaled Hassan, and my best friends Sara, Sanjidah, Maha, and Trena to be optimistic, spiritually grounded, and to lift others up during this time as well.


    2020 Louis T. Rader Undergraduate Teaching Award: Sarah Meng

    May 13, 2020

    Sarah Meng photo

    About Sarah:

    Discrete math is in my bones. I have been a teaching assistant for CS 2102 (Discrete Mathematics) for 4 professors who taught at least 5 distinct versions of the course over 6 semesters. I had no idea that I would fall in love with discrete math as a student almost 7 semesters ago. I suppose this has been in the works ever since I got a tiny taste of proofs and logic in 8th grade geometry class.

    I am a fourth year in the College majoring in CS and minoring in linguistics. Within CS, I am interested in web development, HCI, digital accessibility, and cybersecurity, but who knows how my career will develop.

    I'm musically inclined. I can play some piano, and I have sung as a member of the Virginia Women's Chorus for most of the past four years. I'm dabbling in arranging music.

    What has kept motivated:

    "Finish strong!" If any time is the time to finish strong, now is the time, because I will be graduating this semester and looking for a job in a job market that is still being disrupted by the pandemic. I'm fortunate to be very close with my younger sister. She is one of the biggest reasons I get through every day.


    2020 Louis T. Rader Undergraduate Teaching Award Winner: Sean Gatewood

    May 13, 2020

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    About Sean:

    I like to think of myself as a general-purpose software engineer, but I think sometimes the real joy comes from the silly little hacks. While the pillars of proper development are important, sometimes it’s fun to just throw something together with band-aids and chewing gum to make something that solves or automates an immediate problem.

    While at UVA, I was a TA for Introduction to Programming for 6 semesters. I enjoyed making little extras for my students and fellow TAs, such as review videos and meta python review games. I also did this a bit in my own classes as well, such as automated CS 3330 practice problems (with help from Layne Berry) and an *enhanced* OS lecture video interface.

    Nowadays, when I’m AFK, I enjoy playing basketball with my labradors and walking in the woods.

    What has kept Sean motivated:

    I have enjoyed distracting myself with meaningful work, fun activities, tasty food, and plenty of sleep.


    2020 Louis T. Rader Undergraduate Teaching Award Winner: Simranjit Bhatia

    May 13, 2020

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    About Simranjit:

    I'm a 4th year in the College studying Computer Science, and I'll be working at Twitch as a software engineer next year! I've been involved in a wide variety of clubs during my time at UVA, including the Sikh Students Association, volunteering with Madison House, CyberHoos research, the University's Salsa Club, the Jefferson Literary and Debating Society, and the Raven Society. I have also TA'd several CS courses at UVA and the Darden School of Business. In my spare time, I enjoy reading and playing the piano. A fun fact about me is that I speak 5 different languages!

    What has kept Simranjit motivated:

    It's definitely been hard to stay motivated during the pandemic, but I try to go for walks around my neighborhood to get some clarity when I feel unmotivated or get tired of staring at my computer screen. It helps to stay connected with friends during the pandemic as well, so I try to make an effort to text and FaceTime friends as frequently as I can.


    2020 Louis T. Rader Undergraduate Teaching Award Winner: Winston Liu

    May 13, 2020

    Winston Liu photo

    About Winston:

    I'm a 4th year from northern New Jersey, majoring in Computer Science with a minor in Spanish! I love to TA, and it's been my absolute pleasure to be a teaching assistant for the CS department. When I'm not TAing, my free time is usually taken up by rock climbing, running, playing sports with friends, or volunteering. Fun fact: I'm ambidextrous!

    What has kept Winston motivated:

    Keeping in touch with friends has really been crucial. Even though we can't hang out in person anymore, getting on the phone or a Zoom call with them every once in a while has done wonders. Some of my friend groups also created Minecraft servers, and I can't think of a better way to reconnect with each other than in an infinite world of possibilities.

    Additionally, given that my usual hobbies were no longer possible, I ended up dedicating the time I usually reserved for those towards taking on more TA responsibilities as well as caring for the Hereford community.