Computer Scientist Fosters International Ties
After teaching and living in Venezuela and Puerto Rico for many years, Richard Eckert, associate professor of computer science, fell in love with Latin America, and is now using his passion for international education here at Binghamton University.
Recognized with the University Award for Excellence in International Education in 2008 for his extensive involvement with the University’s Turkish Dual Diploma Program, Richard Eckert in 1999 also received the Chancellor’s Award in Excellence in Teaching.
“It feels wonderful anytime your peers recognize you like that,” he says.
In 2004, when the dual-diploma program with Turkish universities was in its beginning stages, Eckert was chairman of the Faculty Senate, the University’s academic governance body, and helped the program gain approval. That’s when he became familiar with it, even traveling to Turkey, and he’s been heavily involved with the program ever since.
Eckert teaches many of the Turkish students in class, and says in a recent robotics competition, it was gratifying to see a team made up of two American students and two Turkish students win.
“It was great to see the way they worked together as a team,” he says.
Eckert came to Binghamton in 1983, the same year the Watson School of Engineering and Applied Science was founded, when it only offered graduate-level degrees. His influence was felt after, when the Watson School began offering undergraduate programs, and Eckert helped establish the degree program in computer science.
“I was always interested in computers,” he says. “I got involved with computers early in the game.”
Eckert primarily teaches, but his research is also reaching across the globe. He’s been working with Ph.D. student, Abe Howell, in recent years on an open robot platform, something Eckert says has never been done before. The robot can be used in classrooms for students from grade school through college and graduate school to help them learn, and is being used as far away as South Korea.
“Kids have a real interest in robots,” Eckert says. “You can hook them with the robot, and then help them learn.”
After 26 years at Binghamton, Eckert plans on retiring in the next year.
“I don’t know what I’ll do with all of my time,” he jokes. “But all good things must end.”