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Dr. Thomas P. Keenan, FCIPS, I.S.P.

Submitted by admin on Tue, 2012/04/03 - 8:53am.

Teaching Awards

Additional Awards

2012: NSERC Award for Science Promotion
2007: Order of the University of Calgary
2003: Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Medal
2002: Community Achievement Award - Education, City of Calgary
1997: ASTech Award for Outstanding Contribution to Alberta Science and Technology
1984: Canadian Science Writers Award for Best Radio Documentary

Great teachers involve their students meaningfully in the course. How do you engage your students?

I was fortunate enough to take over academic leadership of the “computers for non-majors” course in the Department of Computer Science at the perfect time. In the past, students were taught programming languages that they would never use again and asked to do simple-minded projects like, and this is an actual example, “calculate the area of a trapezoidal farmer’s field with these dimensions…”

Never having met a trapezoidal farmer, and armed with new tools like spreadsheets and database programs, I changed the assignments to be done in groups and to focus on areas that the students really cared about. Sure we got a lot of hockey pool programs and “compatibility surveys” (matchmaking programs for students looking for dates) but some really stood out.

I’ll never forget one student, an archeologist, who programmed the tricky Mayan calendar, as his class project. Years later, he was still using the skills he’d learned and I saw the improved version of his calendar for sale in an academic journal for archeologists. It was, for a while, the definitive Mayan calendar software!