UCLA Library Honors Three Professors for Their Work to Make Classes Affordable

Three faculty members are the most recent recipients of the UCLA Library's Affordable Course Materials Initiative awards, which provide support to professors who create original, open Clarice Aielloeducational resources that eliminate the need for students to purchase course textbooks.

Clarice Aiello, an assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering, has been awarded a one-time ACMI grant of $5,000 — made in conjunction with OpenUCLA, the library’s UCLA Centennial Initiative — to develop materials for her forthcoming course on quantum mechanics for engineers.

David Delgado Shorter, a professor of world arts and cultures/dance, and Alicia Gaspar de Alba, a professor of Chicana and Chicano and Central American studies, each received awards of $1,000 to create materials that will replace the required textbooks for their courses.

“The library’s ACMI awards are meant to encourage faculty to create affordable course materials by compensating them for the time it takes to develop them,” said associate university librarian Alison Scott, who administers the program. “We have successfully collaborated with instructors to help them achieve their educational objectives, and we have eased the financial burden for thousands of UCLA students.”

Since the launch of the initiative in 2013, the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition, an organization that supports open access to scholarship, estimates that UCLA students have saved more than $1 million in expenses for textbooks and course materials. Established in collaboration with UCLA instructors, the ACMI encourages more sustainable approaches to student course materials while aligning library collections to better support teaching and learning. Faculty awardees partner with a team of library specialists who help them identify, access, adapt and adopt alternative course materials.

Aiello, a quantum engineer at the UCLA Samueli School of Engineering, is interested in how quantum physics informs biology at the nanoscale. Through the support of the OpenUCLA ACMI, Aiello will create an open educational resource for her winter 2021 course, “Quantum Mechanics for Engineers.” Librarian Renee Romero will work with Aiello during the duration of her award period.

This work will serve to bridge a gap in quantum mechanics education, which has historically focused on physicists but left out engineers. Aiello hopes her resource will help build a workforce in the emerging field of quantum and be accessible to as many people as possible, both students and the broader public.

“Free and open-source course materials benefit not only those students who are already obtaining a first-rate education at UCLA but also scientific-minded individuals who may not have the opportunity to attend formal classes,” Aiello said. “Our new course, in particular, will introduce quantum mechanics to engineers. Engineers — from electrical to computer and materials disciplines, for example — are in high demand to join the quantum workforce, while their training usually includes little quantum. We aim to start filling that gap.”

Shorter received an ACMI award for his spring 2020 class W202: Research Methodologies. With the assistance of librarian Diana King, he enriched the course through the addition of numerous library resources, including free e-books and online access to Sage Research Methods. Collaboratively, Shorter and King were able to completely eliminate the cost of student materials through ACMI.

Gaspar de Alba received her award for her forthcoming spring 2021 course, “Femi[ni]cide: Death, Gender, and the Border.” Librarian Jennifer Osorio will partner with Gaspar de Alba to facilitate the selection of educational resources for students.