Many students in Stuart Reges’ computer science classes pull all-nighters, cramming in hopes of acing the introductory courses at the University of Washington.
Little do they know that their professor is doing the same — just in front of an oven and with spatula in hand.
A principal lecturer at the UW, Reges has baked chocolate chip cookies for his students during finals week for the past six years, a tradition that first began when he taught at Stanford in the early 80s. Back then, he had about 25 students in his class.
But times have changed, as Reges explained in telling us about this fun pastime:
“It seemed like a nice tradition, so I continued to make cookies for my students even as my class size grew to 60, 90, 150, up to around 300. I stopped making cookies after I left Stanford in 1991. But then in September of 2008, at UW, I was contacted by a woman who had taken my intro course in 1988. So that was 20 years later. She wanted my cookie recipe. That convinced me that I should start making cookies again for my classes and ever since then I’ve made homemade chocolate chip cookies that I give out at the final exam for all of my classes.”
But now — as the interest in computer science has grown and the UW program expands — class sizes have swelled. This year, Reges is teaching computer science & engineering 142 — a class with 1,000 students — and computer science & engineering 143 — a class with 400 students. (In fact, he’s responsible for about 1.5 percent of all credit hours at the university).
That means he baked 1,400 cookies for his students during finals week. That’s 116 dozen, or as colleague Ed Lazowska notes: 154,000 calories.
Reges is not just a master cookie maker. He’s a darned good computer science professor, too. He won the UW Distinguished Teaching Award in 2011.
No word yet on whether the sugar high helped students perform better on the finals.