A Passion for Solving Puzzles

As Stacy Supak dives into her fourth year as a teaching assistant professor at NC State, she’s looking forward to sharing her passion of finding solutions to challenges with her online students.

Supak has a diverse educational background, having earned degrees in engineering, geophysics and parks, recreation and tourism management. She currently teaches Geospatial Information Science (GIS) courses online for the College of Natural ResourcesCenter for Geospatial Analytics. Her current courses include GIS 410/510: Introduction to Geospatial Data Systems/Science and GIS 530: Spatial Data Foundations.

“I love solving puzzles or problems in the most efficient way possible, so it is great that I currently have the opportunity to teach others to do the same,” Supak explained. She added that she’s lucky to teach a subject that she enjoys and her students are eager to learn about.

“I really enjoy knowing that students leave my courses with marketable skills and hopefully a more developed geospatial curiosity, which can be applied in both the natural or social world.”

“When it comes to online courses, organization is critical both for the students and for me,” Supak said. She aims to deliver well-organized courses that are consistent with deadlines and deliverables.

“A student’s aim should be to get into a rhythm with the class, so that his\her work gets done as early as possible. This will allow time to start a dialog with the professor or teaching staff, if extra support is needed,” Supak said.

According to Supak, her greatest accomplishment has been her overhaul of the GIS 410/510 course, which now includes cutting-edge web mapping application development . About 200 students enroll in this course each semester.

“Given that GIS technology is rapidly changing, it was imperative that I make this course reflective of the current trends in web GIS, while still teaching the fundamentals of problem-solving with geospatial data,” Supak explained.

In addition to teaching online courses, Supak’s research interests include using geospatial analytics to support park and protected land management decisions. She’s also a bit of a gamer.

“As I said, I love solving puzzles and playing games. After playing Settlers of Catan with a group of friends for a few years, I was accused of winning a disproportionate amount of the games,” Supak said. Since then she has cataloged everyone’s wins and achievements. Although Supak hasn’t done any formal statistical analysis, she has proof she doesn’t always win.

“I don’t always have the most number of wins annually, but I never have the least.”

This post was originally published in Online and Distance Education News.

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