EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – Two UTEP faculty members have earned the University of Texas System Board of Regents’ 2022 Outstanding Teaching Award.

The award is one of the top teaching awards in Texas.

Adeeba Raheem, Ph.D., associate professor in the Department of Civil Engineering and Diego Aguirre, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Computer Science, are among 14 faculty members representing many of the UT academic and health institutions who received the award.

“I’m very thankful that Dr. Raheem and Dr. Aguirre chose to bring their talent and dedication to UTEP. They engage their students with intellectual rigor, compassion and understanding and they are beyond deserving of this honor.”

UTEP President Heather Wilson
Courtesy UTEP

The ROTA was established in 2008 to recognize faculty for their extraordinary classroom performance and innovation. It is one of the nation’s largest awards programs honoring teachers in higher education and reinforces the Board of Regents’ commitment to ensuring that UT institutions are places of intellectual exploration and discovery, educational excellence and unparalleled opportunity.

“The UT System Board of Regents is honored to recognize top educators annually for their extraordinary dedication to the students they are equipping to be our future leaders,” Board of Regents Chairman Kevin P. Eltife said.

Upon receiving her doctorate in construction management from the University of Florida in 2014, Raheem joined UTEP as a faculty member with the Department of Civil Engineering. She holds master’s degrees in building construction, environmental engineering and civil engineering.

“To say that receiving this award is a tremendous honor would be an understatement,” Raheem said. “I am earnestly grateful to the UT System Board of Regents for recognizing my efforts as an educator, which has further invigorated my passion for inspiring and empowering the next generation of problem-solvers, critical thinkers and high-performing leaders.”

Aguirre is a proud UTEP alumnus, having earned his bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees from UTEP. He currently teaches undergraduate, master’s and doctoral courses in the Department of Computer Science. His research focuses on several topics including deep learning, computer vision, spoken language and reinforcement learning.

“Accolades have never been much of a motivation for me,” Aguirre said. “But I am immensely grateful to the Board of Regents for this award because it will allow me to do more of what is most important to me as an educator, which is to create opportunities for talented students from both sides of the border who, if it weren’t for UTEP, would not have access to the kind of high-impact education they can obtain here.”

Since its inception, 76 UTEP faculty members have received the ROTA. Students, peer faculty and external reviewers conduct a rigorous evaluation based on several criteria, including a candidate’s teaching performance, classroom expertise, curricula quality, innovative course development and student learning outcomes. Winners receive a $25,000 prize.