ORIE’s Schalekamp, Shmoys receive College of Engineering teaching awards

Two members of the ORIE faculty received teaching excellence awards for 2020-21 from Cornell’s College of Engineering.

Senior Lecturer Frans Schalekamp was named the winner of the Sonny Yau ’72 Excellence in Teaching Award, while David Shmoys, the Laibe/Acheson Professor of Business Management and Leadership Studies, has received the Douglas Whitney ’61 Excellence in Teaching Award.

“Dr. Schalekamp is an energetic, passionate teacher who can teach virtually any course in ORIE adeptly,” said Mark Lewis, the Maxwell M. Upson Professor of Engineering and ORIE Director. “To give you a sense of his consistency and versatility, during the spring semester of 2021, amidst the ongoing pandemic, Professor Schalekamp took on teaching over 300 students in two of our largest courses.”

“Amazing class, amazing (perhaps the best?) professor, incredible environment and the most wonderful way to start my Tuesday and Thursday mornings,” said one ORIE 3310 student.

A student in his ORIE 4350 class wrote, “Professor Schalekamp is one of the most empathetic, knowledgeable, and highly-skilled professors that I've had at Cornell. Having taken three classes from him, I enjoy his teaching style and find he takes genuine care in ensuring his students are learning and doing well outside of the classroom.”

Lewis noted that Shmoys’ contributions are “both conventional (he is an excellent teacher) and unconventional (he has had an outsized impact on the education of our students). I find it hard to believe that there could be any greater contribution to teaching than dedicating a significant portion of your time to the redevelopment of the university-wide course roster complete with times and classrooms,” Lewis said. “This is exactly what Professor Shmoys did. His effort required a review of every classroom, every seat and every time slot (sometimes including evening and weekends) to ensure student and professor safety. Without his efforts, the university may not have been able to reopen in fall 2020.”

“Professor Shmoys is a very engaging lecturer,” wrote one ENGRI 1101 student. “This is by far my favorite class I have taken at Cornell and confirmed my goal to major in ORIE.”

Schalekamp, who received his Ph.D. in operations research from Cornell in 2007, was named the ORIE Professor of the Year in a vote of undergraduate students for 2020-21. He has worked both in academia and in industry on three continents, and on areas ranging from plant breeding and genetics to logistics. Former academic positions were at the Institute for Theoretical Computer Science at Tsinghua University in Beijing, China, the Department of Mathematics at the College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, Va., and the Department of Computer Science at Cornell.

Professor Shmoys, who has won the Sonny Yau '72 award four times (1995, 1998, 2005 and 2012), is the Laibe/Acheson Professor and Director of the Center for Data Science for Enterprise & Society at Cornell. He obtained his Ph.D. in computer science from the University of California at Berkeley in 1984 and held postdoctoral positions at MSRI in Berkeley and Harvard University, and a faculty position at MIT before joining the faculty at Cornell University. He was Chair of the Cornell Provost’s “Radical Collaborations” Task Force on Data Science and was co-Chair of the Academic Planning Committee for Cornell Tech.

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