Prof. Valeria Bertacco has been honored for her outstanding contributions to undergraduate education with an Arthur F. Thurnau Professorship.
Criteria for Thurnau professorships include a strong commitment to students and to teaching and learning, excellence in teaching, innovations in teaching and learning, a strong commitment to working effectively with a diverse student body, a demonstrable impact on students’ intellectual or artistic development, and contributions to undergraduate education beyond the classroom, studio or lab. Thurnau professorships are named after alumnus Arthur F. Thurnau and are supported by the Thurnau Charitable Trust.
Prof. Bertacco is enthusiastic and passionate about teaching and has made it her mission to improve the undergraduate educational experience of all of her students. In large computer science courses, she embraces a personal touch and creates an interactive classroom environment. She is always happy to go the extra mile and interact with students outside of class.
Prof. Bertacco’s contributions to undergraduate teaching are primarily related to EECS 270 (Logic Design), EECS 370 (Computert Organization), and EECS 478 (Logic Synthesis), all key courses in the CS and CE undergraduate programs. Having taught these courses since she joined the faculty in 2003, it is no exaggeration to say that she has taught every computer scientist and computer engineer who has graduated from Michigan in the last decade.
Outside of the classroom, Prof. Bertacco advises and mentors the Girls in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (GEECS) undergraduate student group. In addition, Prof. Bertacco is the faculty advisor and co-founder for the Ensemble of CSE Ladies (ECSEL), the student group of graduate women in CSE. She took the lead in bootstrapping the Computing CARES initiative, a program funded by a U-M Third Century grant that aims to increase participation of women in computer science and to improve retention of female undergraduates in computer science.
She incorporates material on unconscious biases in the workforce into her courses, and she has worked at the departmental level to encourage inclusive hiring practices for undergraduate instructional aides. One colleague writes that Bertacco has “impacted not only all the students in her class, but also most of the students taking any of the intro-level computer science courses at the University of Michigan.”
She has made numerous contributions of time, effort, and equipment in support of the ECE program at Addis Ababa Institute of Technology (AAIT) in Ethiopia, which has included curriculum development and classroom teaching. She was also part of a U-M delegation that has broadened this relationship and formalized a research exchange program designed to increase collaboration between U-M and AAIT.
Prof. Bertacco received her MS and PhD in Electrical Engineering from Stanford University in 1998 and 2003 and a Computer Engineering degree summa cum laude from the University of Padova, Italy in 1995. She joined the faculty at Michigan in 2003. Prior to that, she was with the Advanced Technology Group of Synopsys for four years as a lead developer of the industry-standard Vera and Magellan tools.
Prof. Bertacco has received recognitions including U-M’s Faculty Recognition Award and Sarah Goddard Power Award, the College of Engineering’s Herbert Kopf Service Excellence Award and Vulcan Teaching Excellence Award, an IEEE CEDA Early Career Award, an NSF CAREER award, the Air Force Office of Scientific Research’s Young Investigator Award, and an IBM Faculty Award. She is technical program chair for the Design Automation Conference, has served on several conference program committees, and has been an Associated Editor for the IEEE Transactions on CAD and the Microelectronics Journal. She is a Fellow of IEEE and an ACM Distinguished Scientist.