Kenneth Bogert knew UNC Asheville was the place for him, both as student when he started school as a freshman here in 2000, and as a faculty member returning to his alma mater this year. Of course, he had different priorities as a teenager.
“It was Mills Hall,” Bogert said, that initially attracted him to UNC Asheville. “Specifically that the deal on it was that you were in a suite with two bedrooms, a bathroom and a living room.”
But now that he’s coming back to UNC Asheville as an assistant professor of computer science, Bogert is looking forward to returning to the classrooms he ended up loving as a student.
“Here we put so much emphasis on good teaching and the quality of students coming out,” Bogert said. “I didn’t realize how lucky I was when I was here. This is the place I’ve always loved, and I’m glad to be back.”
Bogert already has experience as a teacher, both as a graduate student at University of Georgia and earlier as an adjunct instructor at A-B Tech. And his experience as a student helps him decide how he teaches his classes.
“I’m more hands on,” he explained. “I learned computers when I was very young by doing. So when I actually ended up teaching classes, that’s how I do it. I don’t so much lecture as I attempt to work through the problems and the material in class.”
Bogert also hope to engage with students through undergraduate research, particularly involving his own research specialty—applying a technique called inverse reinforcement learning to robots.
This research involves teaching robots to complete a task, but without just imitating how a human does it.
“You want to teach the robot to do something, rather than try to program it,” Bogert explained. “If the robot was a humanoid, all you have to do is just put the camera on the human and do exactly what it does, which is called imitation learning. With inverse reinforcement learning it’s instead figuring out not necessarily what to do, but what the person we’re watching is valuing about what they’re doing. When we do that, the robot can then do the same task, but in potentially a different way.”
But for now Bogert has his work cut out for him as he settles back into UNC Asheville and prepares for his new role at the front of the classroom. One day soon though, Bogert says, “there may be robots flying around my office.”
Welcome to UNC Asheville
UNC Asheville welcomes 19 new faculty members to campus this semester:
Mildred Barya, assistant professor of English
Kenneth Bogert, assistant professor of computer science
Victoria Bradbury, assistant professor of new media
Laura Jones, assistant professor of health and wellness
Angel Kaur, assistant professor of interdisciplinary studies
William Koprowski, professor of management and accountancy
Andrew Laughlin, assistant professor of environmental studies
Laura Meadows, assistant professor of mass communication
William Revere, assistant professor of English
Juan Sanchez-Martinez, assistant professor of modern languages and literatures
Ryan Steed, assistant professor of chemistry
Megan Underhill, assistant professor of sociology and anthropology
Jonathan Brown, visiting assistant professor of economics
Wiley Cash, writer-in-residence
Richard Turpen, visiting professor of management and accountancy
Jana Mader, lecturer in modern languages and literatures
Renuka Gusain, lecturer in humanities
David Hayes, lecturer in management and accountancy
Scott Branson, lecturer in the Master of Liberal Arts and Sciences Program