The University Record, October 1, 2001

Peter M. Chen—Amoco Undergraduate Teaching Award

Chen (Photo by Martin Vloet, U-M Photo Services)
Peter M. Chen is an outstanding teacher who motivates students with assignments in electrical engineering and computer science courses that are both demanding and confidence building. He truly cares about students and demonstrates this in numerous ways, with his teaching and curricular innovations and his efforts to make the University a friendly, welcoming place for everyone.

Professor Chen, a member of the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science faculty since 1993, pioneered the use of automated feedback systems for student projects within his department. When a student electronically submits a programming project, a computer program examines and tests its functionality and e-mails the result to the student. This detailed and immediate feedback motivates students to refine their designs until they are correct. Professor Chen’s technologically sophisticated feedback system has been adopted by many of his faculty colleagues for the major creative projects they assign. He also has revised and strengthened important upper level computer organization and operating systems courses.

Professor Chen, always an enthusiastic lecturer, presents complicated material in a clean, organized manner and provides a helpful summary of class topics in carefully written lecture notes.

Forming relationships with students, even in larger lecture classes, is a high priority for Professor Chen. He takes photographs of each student the first day of class and learns students’ names by the end of the second week. The Chen family hosts holiday dinners each term for students who do not have family nearby.

Professor Chen previously has won six teaching awards, twice being named the Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Professor of the Year. His research, including preservation of memory across computer system crashes, has been recognized by the National Science Foundation. He has enhanced the University’s visibility nationally through presentations at major conferences. In addition to directing the Software Systems Laboratory, Professor Chen is active on College of Engineering and departmental committees and serves on the faculty search and building committees in the computer science and engineering division.

In recognition of his dedication to students and concern for their well-being, his pedagogical and curricular innovations, and his contributions to computer science, the University of Michigan presents to Peter M. Chen its Amoco Undergraduate Teaching Award.