Professor Winston was the best teacher and mentor I had at MIT. He introduced so many students to big picture concepts and fields of research, that they will not forget even years after school. His courses didn't just cover technical details of machine intelligence- they gave students new perspectives into the field through discussion of ideas from psychology, biology, philosophy, business, history. And beyond that he had so much communication advice that actually *made sense*. He truly knew how to engage and educate, and he certainly had a lot of vision.
He was also an MIT lifer, who understood what MIT is actually all about, and defended student culture on numerous occasions. He will be sorely missed by the whole community, and selfishly I was devastated by this news. I had heard his health was improving, and was looking forward to talking to him about my graduate research (and beyond). I'm not sure I ever properly thanked him for all the help he gave me, but I hope he was well aware how important he was to me, and really all of MIT. RIP PHW
I went to talk to PHW a couple years ago bc I was worried about finishing my MEng thesis on time (from another lab). I was nervous to explain I couldn't really do it over the summer because I was doing an analytics internship with the Jaguars. Not sure what reaction to expect
But what I definitely didn't expect was for him to get legitimately excited for me. He actually offered that if I wasn't able to finish my original thesis on time he would be my official adviser to sign off on a football analytics paper instead.
He obviously had a lot of amazing ideas and was great at conveying them, but what was really most remarkable was how much he cared about his students, and MIT as a whole. I've been looking to read more stories about him, so thanks for this thread!
It was especially crazy how he respected and made time for any students that wanted to chat with him, even if he barely knew them. I remember when I was just one of hundreds in that term's 034, I tried to schedule one of those UA dinners with him
We weren't able to make it work with the whole group during the Fall, but he went out of his way to take us to dinner over IAP. I originally suggested the Friendly Toast because I wasn't sure what the group would be okay with now that it wasn't UA funded.
So Winston replied "If you really like the Friendly Toast that's fine, but if this is just about the money please pick somewhere more upscale, I can cover the dinner with discretionary funds".
I always enjoyed those UA dinners, but I think he was the only prof that went out of his way to actually treat the students. Another group I know he basically ordered dessert for all of them.
Anyway, those are a few little things I really appreciated about PHW. He had a big impact on my career too I think, but everyone is sharing stories related to his teachings and work, so wanted to share something that maybe wouldn't be redundant!