Leena Razzaq, PhD

Hometown: Ramallah, Palestine

Degree earned at WPI: PhD, Computer Science

Why did you choose to attend WPI?
When I decided to go back to college after having two daughters, I started out studying computer science part time at a state college. It was a good start, but after a while I felt the need to kick it up a notch. I visited WPI and could see that it would be the challenge I was looking for. I had to work harder, and my 4.0 GPA dropped a little after transferring to WPI, but I was never bored!

Present job title and employer:
Lecturer, College of Computer and Information Science, Northeastern University

How do you feel your experiences at WPI prepared you for working in your field?
When I decided to concentrate on intelligent tutoring systems, I had the luxury of working with some of the best researchers in the area and working on exciting projects that would have an effect on thousands of students. I was most interested in figuring out how to use technology to efficiently reach and motivate students who are at different skill levels. But at WPI, the faculty excels at teaching as well as research. Now that I am teaching computer science at a university, I use everything I learned about learning sciences and technology, and from watching effective teaching in the classroom.

How has WPI’s philosophy of Theory and Practice, and working with teams, prepared you for facing real-world challenges in the workplace or graduate school?
The most important skill I acquired at WPI was learning how to learn. The pace is fast and intense, and you have to learn how to motivate yourself to get things done, as well as motivate others to get things done when working on team projects. If you can effectively handle group dynamics, deadlines, and multiple projects, you will have skills that are valuable no matter where you end up.

Groups or extracurricular activities you participated in at WPI:

  • Computer Science Graduate Council
  • Computer Science Graduate Student Organization
  • WPI Women in Computer Science

Academic or professional awards you have received:

  • Computing Innovations Postdoctoral Fellowship, 2009
  • Honorable Mention for Best Student Paper – AIED, 2009
  • NSF PIMSE GK-12 Teaching Fellowship, 2008–2009
  • GAANN Fellowship, 2006–2008
  • NSF Nicoletti GK-6 Teaching Fellowship, 2004–2006
  • Best Poster Award, 7th Annual Intelligent Tutoring Systems Conference, 2004
  • Tau Beta Pi, National Engineering Honor Society
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