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Campus & Community

Carrying a Big STIC

New Gift Memorializing Late Alum Supports Undergraduates Teaching Peers

By Kimbra Cutlip

Student course

Photo by John T. Consoli

Computer science majors Sophiya Chetri, Galen Stetsyuk and Kevin Feng and alumnus Mikhail Sorokin '18 work together in a course designed by Stetsyuk and Sorokin.

What computer science major Galen Stetsyuk and Mikhail Sorokin ’18 don’t yet have in teaching experience, they may make up for in passion for the latest trends in the fast-moving field of virtual reality.

As the young entrepreneurs build their VR company, they’re sharing what they’re learning by teaching a computer science course this semester, “Virtual Reality Game Development.”

It’s part of a campus program called Student Initiated Courses (STICs), in which students design and teach courses to their peers. Stetsyuk and Sorokin were funded by the inaugural Andrew Reisse Endowed Teaching Award, which supports undergraduates teaching STICs in science, mathematics or computer science.

“Student-taught courses explore a lot more at the edge of our knowledge than traditional courses,” Stetsyuk said. “We’re teaching things that we know and also encouraging students to try new things and see how they work.”

Their entrepreneurial spirit and conviction echo the life of the man for whom their teaching award was named. Robert Reisse M.S. ’70, Ph.D. ’76 and Dana Reisse M.L.S. ’73 created and endowed the award in memory of their son, Andrew Reisse ’01, co-founder and lead engineer of Oculus.

Andrew Reisse launched his first startup as a 19-year-old college student with his friends and fellow Terps Michael Antonov ’03 and Brendan Iribe. Besides being a talented computer graphics engineer, Reisse was a passionate hiker and landscape photographer, as well as a natural mentor who inspired others around him, Reisse was killed in a hit-and-run accident near his home in Santa Ana, Calif., in 2013.

Andrew Reisse’s legacy lives on at Maryland in the rooftop garden and photo gallery in the new Brendan Iribe Center for Computer Science and Engineering, the Andrew Reisse Memorial Scholarship in Computer Science, and the endowment for student-led classes.

In STICs, any student can work with a faculty adviser to design a one- or two-credit course in the topic of their choice, including planning the assignments and curriculum and how to present it to the class. Since its founding in 2017, STICs have also included units such as African American studies, business, music and environmental science, with more than 400 students participating and about two dozen student facilitators.

“I’ve been so impressed with the students we met who were teaching through the STICs program,” said Dana Reisse. “I think it’s very important to support students who are willing to take the time and effort to teach a class to their peers.”


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