IT professor's internship scheme pays dividends

By Martha McKenzie-Minifie

Professor John Hosking got so tired of the IT industry complaining that graduates weren't up to the job that he decided to get his students intern jobs.

And his novel approaches to mentoring saw him last night named among the country's top tertiary teachers.

He was one of 10 recognised in the Tertiary Teaching Excellence Awards, at which Massey University School of English and Media Studies senior lecturer Dr Lisa Emerson won the supreme award.

For Professor Hosking, the acknowledgement validated his approach to mentoring developed during 27 years as a university teacher.

Among the the University of Auckland applied computer science expert's more unusual tactics was helping establish a combined mentoring and summer internship scheme.

He said the industry used to complain students were not ready - but did nothing about it.

"When we started off this, there wasn't really a good history of IT companies providing internships. We started this programme as a way of essentially raising an internship culture within local industry."

Up to 30 students a year have gone through the scheme - dubbed the CSI Academy - since it began four years ago.

"Rather than just having a company employ a couple of interns and stick them into the helpdesk and bore the pants off the students, what we do is encourage the companies to think about leading edge technology exploration type projects," said Professor Hosking.

"We've had two companies spin out new companies as a result of the internship."

He was particularly honoured that students initially put him forward for the accolade.

"There's no more rewarding thing than seeing a PhD student of yours walking up across the stage in the town hall when they graduate."

Former student John Grundy, who is now a professor at the university, said Professor Hosking had a rare talent for doing his job exceptionally well.

"He was my supervisor but he was far more of a mentor than a teacher in the traditional stand-up-and-talk [way]."

Ako Aotearoa National Centre for Tertiary Teaching Excellence director Dr Peter Coolbear said the winners' calibre was exceptional.

* Dr Lisa Emerson, senior lecturer, School of English and Media Studies, Massey University
* Dr Hamish Anderson, senior lecturer, Department of Economics and Finance, Massey University
* Julia Bruce, hairdressing tutor, Centre for Hairdressing and Beauty Therapy, Waikato Institute of Technology
* Dr Dawn Garbett, associate dean teaching and learning, Faculty of Education, University of Auckland
* Professor John Hosking, Professor of Applied Computer Science, Department of Computer Science, University of Auckland
* Dr Ian McAndrew, senior lecturer in employment relations, Department of Management, School of Business, University of Otago
* Dr John Reynolds, senior lecturer, Department of Anatomy and Structural Biology, University of Otago
* Dr Sean Weaver, School of Geography, Environment and Earth Science, Victoria University of Wellington
* Dr Marc Wilson, senior lecturer, School of Psychology, Victoria University of Wellington
* Adrian Woodhouse, catering lecturer, School of Hospitality, Otago Polytechnic
SOURCE: Tertiary Teaching Excellence Awards

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