In the Classroom with Ashok Goel

Exchange of Ideas Creates Classroom ‘Rhythm’

Professor Ashok Goel never had any doubt that he would enter the family business: education. 

“I always wanted to teach,” said Goel. “Growing up in (Kurukshetra) India, my grandfather was a primary school teacher, and my father was a professor of physics. Teaching runs in my blood, I suppose. In my family, teaching and research were considered the things to do.”

He came to the U.S. to attend The Ohio State University and pursue a Ph.D. in physics, but he instead earned a degree in computer science after working for a few years. 

“Some people are like arrows. They know exactly what they want to do in life and they shoot like this,” Goel said, demonstrating a straight shot. “I’m afraid I was more like a spiral,” he joked, referring to the fact that he went from physics to computing. 

Now a professor of computer science and cognitive science in the College of Computing’s School of Interactive Computing, Goel also is the director of the School’s Ph.D. program in Human-Centered Computing. In addition, he serves as director of Interactive Computing’s Design & Intelligence Laboratory, co-director of Tech’s Center for Biologically Inspired Design, and is a fellow of the Brook Byers Institute for Sustainable Systems. 

He has been at Georgia Tech for 26 years.

“Sometimes people ask me, ‘Why haven’t you moved?’ My answer is Georgia Tech changes into a new place every five years,” he said. “The changes here are so rapid.”

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