Dr. Thao joined the UW-Whitewater faculty from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee where he recently served as a visiting lecturer. His teaching experience includes classes such as computer applications, database development, and assembly language programming. He has impressive technical skills including a comprehensive understanding of programming and scripting languages as well as a wealth of experience with software development.
What is his favorite thing about UW-Whitewater so far?
The campus is beautiful. The environment is very friendly. The faculty and students feel like family. The First Year Program made me felt welcomed. My involvement with the students through student organizations allows me to know the students better. On Thanksgiving dinner with the Southeast Asian Student Organization, the students packed me lots of food to take home. They always invite me to their activities.
What made him want to teach?
When he was young, he did not think about teaching. His father was a teacher in a refugee camp in Thailand and indirectly influenced him to become a teacher. He believes that by teaching he can contribute more to society. He can serve as a role model for students who share similar background especially those who are the first generation to go to college or former or children of refugees. He also discovered that he liked teaching while he was in graduate school.
What is his approach to teaching and what can students expect in the classroom?
He uses both lecture and in-class exercises that allow students to apply the skills they are learning. Sometimes these exercises involve team work. He enjoys challenging the students. He wants the students to be ready for the real world by pushing the students to solve difficult problems.
What is something that students would be surprised to learn about him?
Most students probably do not know that he was a former refugee from Laos. He spent a decade in a refugee camp in Northern Thailand. He arrived in the US at the age of 14 with a third grade education and spoke some English. Because of his background, his experiences in high school and in college are very different from most students.
What is one experience that occurred during his undergraduate or graduate school experience that made a definite impact on his approach to his academic career?
His teaching is influenced by his former professors. One example of this is that he doesn’t use PowerPoint in his lectures. Dr. Thao adopted that approach because he enjoyed his professors’ lectures and the way they made him apply the concepts through practice and projects.
What does he like to do outside of work?
He likes spending time with friends, and family. He likes the outdoor and often goes mountain biking. In the winter, he skis. Last winter, he went to Colorado for a ski trip at Copper Mountain.