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November 25, 2020 Wednesday 11:59:18 AM IST

Erik Demaine wins 2020 MIT Bose Award for Excellence in Teaching

Leadership Instincts

This year’s Bose Award for Excellence in Teaching has been presented to Professor Erik Demaine. Demaine is well-known for his creative interdisciplinary work spanning algorithms, art, and origami. Demaine is a proponent of research done in “supercollaboration,” a non-hierarchal style in which professors and students come together as peers to investigate research questions of mutual interest. Credit for success is shared by all participants. Demaine wrote a program called “Coauthor” specifically to support supercollaboration endeavors by providing a platform for group note-taking and communication. After being nominated by his students, he received a Teaching with Digital Technology Award in 2019 for this work and other forward-thinking educational strategies. He has subsequently written additional supercollaboration programs that he has been heavily utilizing in the fall 2020 semester. The first is “Cocreate,” which is an online group whiteboard. The second is “Comingle,” which facilitates multi-room meetings and integrates both “Coauthor” and “Cocreate.”

Demaine’s eclectic research interests span diverse applications of algorithms, ranging from understanding protein folding patterns to the computational complexity of game playing to art. He is credited with launching the field of computational origami, by proving, at age 17, that it is possible to construct any straight-sided shape by folding a piece of paper and making a single scissor cut. His curved-crease sculptures, which he created in collaboration with his father Martin, reside in the permanent collections of the New York Museum of Modern Art  and the Smithsonian Institution's Renwick Gallery. He has also made appearances in two origami documentaries, “Between the Folds” and NOVA's “Origami Revolution.”

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