The ACM Special Interest Group on Computer Science Education (SIGCSE) provides forums for discussion and resources for educators. Every year SIGCSE awards two individuals or groups who exemplify dedication to computer science education at their annual technical symposium. The main award presented each year, the Outstanding Contribution to Computer Science Education, honors an individual or group for a significant contribution to computer science education.
This year Dr. Panoff received the award for his work with the Shodor Education Foundation and the National Computational Science Institute (NCSI) promoting computational thinking throughout all levels of education. Founded in 1994 by Dr. Panoff and other faculty, Shodor continues to transform learning through computational thinking. Shodor serves students and educators in Durham, NC and nationwide through workshops and online tools and models. Through the efforts of Shodor and NCSI, Dr. Panoff and his colleagues have been able to provide workshops for thousands of university faculty and high school teachers across the country.
His unique ability to excite and motivate individuals from k-12 students to university faculty prompted Lillian Cassel of Villanova University to nominate Dr. Panoff for this award. “He has had an impact well beyond his immediate presence,” Cassel commented on Dr. Panoff’s work. In addition to many other letters of support, Scott Lathrop, Director of Education and Outreach for XSEDE supported the nomination saying ,"Bob has more energy, passion, and commitment to computational science education than any other individual I have met in my professional career." Lathrop said that Panoff makes people stop and think about how they are approaching a problem, and how they might best solve the problem. "People who have attended his presentations, workshops and tutorials," Lathrop added, "are consistently excited, motivated, and eager to learn more."
In addition to receiving the award, Dr. Panoff gave the opening keynote address at SIGCSE’s annual technical symposium. His talk about teaching students not just the tools but how to think critically about the tools they are using was highly commended. SIGCSE Chair, Prof. Susan Rodger from Duke University, described the speech as “a very inspiring talk with lots of great ideas for people to share in their courses with their students.”