Class of 2009 selects Heiser Award winners

Lt. Col. Leemon Baird, center, receives a 2009 Heiser Award from Brig. Gen. Dana Born, dean of the faculty, and Cadet 1st Class Jacob Schonig, Fall 2008 cadet wing commander, during an award presentation May 7. Each graduating class selects two senior faculty members from more than 160 eligible professors to receive the award. (U.S. Air Force photo/Dennis Rogers)

Lt. Col. Leemon Baird, center, receives a 2009 Heiser Award from Brig. Gen. Dana Born, dean of the faculty, and Cadet 1st Class Jacob Schonig, Fall 2008 cadet wing commander, during an award presentation May 7. Each graduating class selects two senior faculty members from more than 160 eligible professors to receive the award. (U.S. Air Force photo/Dennis Rogers)

Dr. David Sacko, center, receives a 2009 Heiser Award from Brig. Gen. Dana Born, dean of the faculty, and Cadet 1st Class Jacob Schonig, Fall 2008 cadet wing commander, during an award presentation May 7. Each graduating class selects two senior faculty members from more than 160 eligible professors to receive the award. (U.S. Air Force photo/Dennis Rogers)

Dr. David Sacko, center, receives a 2009 Heiser Award from Brig. Gen. Dana Born, dean of the faculty, and Cadet 1st Class Jacob Schonig, Fall 2008 cadet wing commander, during an award presentation May 7. Each graduating class selects two senior faculty members from more than 160 eligible professors to receive the award. (U.S. Air Force photo/Dennis Rogers)

U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. -- Each year the Air Force Academy graduating class selects two senior faculty members who have contributed the most to cadet personal and intellectual development; professors who inspired and challenged their students to "work harder and dig deeper." Further, the cadets are asked to consider the extent to which their instructors demonstrated and promoted the USAF's Core Values of Integrity, Service, and Excellence. 

From a list of more than 160 eligible senior professors, the 2009 William H. Heiser Outstanding Senior Faculty Educator Award winners are Dr. David Sacko from the Department of Political Science and Lt. Col. Leemon Baird from the Department of Computer Science. 

In nominating Dr. Sacko for the award, cadets noted that he encourages his students to reach a very high standard, while making every class interesting. They lauded him for his intellect and his ability to connect with undergraduate students. Finally, students noted Dr. Sacko's daily demonstration of the USAF Core Values. 

Dr. Sacko earned a PhD in Political Science from Pennsylvania State University and recently served as a Fulbright Scholar at Warsaw University. His research interests include international relations theory, conflict processes, and eastern European security. 

In nominating Colonel Baird for the award, cadets pointed to his incredible commitment to service: no matter how busy he is, he will always take the time to immediately help his students. Students noted that Colonel Baird challenges them intellectually while inspiring them. He encourages his students to seek "out of the box" solutions--not surprisingly, he is a very popular guest speaker every year in the innovations capstone in a separate department. 

Colonel Baird earned a PhD in Computer Science from Carnegie Mellon. He has a number of research interests, including jam resistance, machine learning, artificial intelligence, cryptography, security, graphics, computer science theory, programming languages, and computer science education. 

Cadet 2nd Class Ridge Flick, Wing Academic NCO, collected nominations and organized the voting. The awards were presented by Cadet 1st Class Jacob Schonig, Fall 2008 cadet wing commander, in front of the entire faculty at a Dean's Call May 7.