The Bigger Picture: Ready for Takeoff

August 31, 2021 By Sanjay Suchak, Sanjay Suchak,

University of Virginia students in James Cohoon’s “Introduction to Programming” course had an unusual assignment for their first day of class last week: Build a paper airplane – and throw it at your professor.

Cohoon, an associate professor of computer science in the School of Engineering and Applied Science, had each student try to throw their airplane into a paper bag he held open at the front of the class. UVA photographer Sanjay Suchak was on hand, snapping photos of the planes’ arcs. He compiled those shots into this composite image, showing a flurry of planes looping through the classroom. 

Later, each student had to instruct Cohoon in how to create an exact copy of the plane they designed. More than just a fun activity, the exercise was a short, simple way to get students excited for class, Cohoon said, and to show the importance of precise instructions and communication. It also turned the teaching task around, demonstrating that faculty members and students are both here to learn from each other.

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Sanjay Suchak

Photographer Office of University Communications