Katrina LaCurts awarded inaugural SoE Distinguished Educator Award

July 12, 2021

Katrina LaCurts, senior Lecturer and Undergraduate Officer for EECS.

Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science | Jane Halpern

Katrina LaCurts, Senior Lecturer and Undergraduate Officer in EECS, has been awarded the inaugural SoE Distinguished Educator Award. This newly launched award recognizes exemplary faculty and teaching staff (lecturer or instructor) for outstanding contributions to MIT’s educational mission. “By embracing teaching excellence, thoughtful innovation, and an equitable approach that ensures our students always have a voice, Katrina LaCurts embodies the excellence to which MIT aspires,” said Asu Ozdaglar, department head of EECS.

LaCurts received the award in recognition of her outstanding work revitalizing 6.02 and 6.033, both large-enrollment core classes requiring the coordination of many recitation instructors and teaching assistants, plus WRAP instructors for 6.033. Hari Balakrishnan, Fujitsu Professor of EECS, shared his perspective on LaCurts’s thoughtful approach to innovation: “In many ways, Katrina LaCurts has taught us instructors, including some of us who were comfortable in our own ways of doing things. I can tell you from first-hand experience that this semester in 6.033 was eye-opening for me–this is a class I’ve taught off and on for over 20 years, and this semester I learned new ways to teach certain topics.”

Besides teaching 6.02 and 6.033, LaCurts advises students; contributes to a variety of key departmental committees; and supervises the function of the undergraduate office, which serves well over 1500 students across six different majors, including around 300 Masters of Engineering students. Among her key achievements within the role of Undergraduate Officer is a complete overhaul of the electronic systems used to audit students, thus making information more accurate and accessible for students and advisors. Additionally, LaCurts’s revision of the undergraduate advising process has resulted in a more equitable and manageable workload for all faculty members. LaCurts also cochairs USAGE, the Course 6 undergraduate student advisory group, which relays actionable feedback to department leadership on all issues relating to students.