Education, Society, and Profession

Develop and increase digital literacy for older people, including working side by side with them (and their electronic devices) in local libraries. Teach kids to code—and give their teachers the tools and confidence to bring computational thinking into classrooms. Develop the communication skills of future software professionals. Improve software development among teams from multiple disciplines. We work to improve how humans communicate and learn in computer-intensive environments.

"As computer scientists, we must be sensitive to the learning challenges of our current and future students, as well as the people who use the applications we build. Digital literacy is a basic human need."Charles Wallace, associate professor, computer science

Current Projects

Project Title: NCWIT AspireIT Award
Leo Ureel
The National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT)

Overview: NCWIT AspireIT is designed to teach K-12 girls programming fundamentals and computational thinking in fun, creative, and hands-on environments. At Michigan Tech, the AspireIT Award has made possible the Code Ninjas Workshop "Explore AI," which takes place on campus August 19-24, 2019. In this week-long workshop, girls grades 6-10 will learn about Artificial Intelligence and how we interact with it in our everyday lives. Activities will include learning about what makes AI work, building their own simple AI, and learning how AI is used for medical analysis, autonomous vehicles, word prediction, and search engines. Participants will also meet other girls interested in computing, interact with women in computing fields, learn about educational and career opportunities, and hear about the experiences of programmers working in industry and academia.

Project Title: ExploreCSR
Laura Brown, Jean Mayo, Linda Ott, Leo Ureel
Sponsor: Google

Overview: Michigan Tech was one of fifteen Universities nationwide to receive a gift from Google with which to run workshops to encourage women to pursue graduate study and careers in Computer Science research. In the 2018-19 academic year, Michigan Tech hosted a three-day workshop "Exploring Computer Science Research," for 26 attendees from six different universities or colleges across Michigan and Wisconsin. Topics included: Machine Vision, Data Science in Energy Systems, Cybersecurity and Privacy in Storage Systems, Agent-based Simulations in Education, Human Computer Interactions. Each Google sponsored workshop was independently evaluated, and Google's external evaluators concluded that, "Michigan Tech made a substantial contribution to the exploreCSR program by engaging undergraduate women in an inclusive computing research learning environment, where students had the opportunity to develop a strong sense of community, and were able to visualize and actualize themselves as future computer scientists eager to create change in their communities." Michigan Tech has been awarded a second Google gift which will fund a workshop to be held in the 2019-2020 school year. Details TBA.

Project Title: Team Learning
Investigator: Robert Pastel

Overview: Current software is developed in two pizza teams composed of diverse members. This project studies students learning in small diverse teams

Project Title: Transdisciplinary Education
Investigator: Robert Pastel

Overview: Wicked problems are solved by individuals working in a single discipline. This project studies students learning to work across disciplines in transdisciplinary teams.

Project Title: Visualization and Analysis for C Code Security (VACCS)
Investigators: Jean Mayo, Ching-Kuang Shene
Sponsor: National Science Foundation

Overview: The execution of C programs is challenging to understand. This project is developing an Eclipse module and visualization system to help students understand how C programs execute and the programming practices that commonly result in security vulnerabilities.

Project Title: Agile Communicators: Preparing Students for Communication-Intensive Software Development Through Inquiry, Critique, and Reflection
Investigator: Charles Wallace
Sponsor: National Science Foundation

Overview: This project addresses a significant, important, and largely overlooked need in the education of future software professionals: thorough, sustained instruction in the communication skills required for real software development. The quality of team communication is widely acknowledged to be a key factor in the success or failure of software projects. The fast pace and constant change of today's software workplace demand an Agile approach, i.e., drive by constant team and customer communication.

The goal of the project is to strengthen the Agile communication characteristics of proactivity, flexibility, and creativity among computer science and software engineering students. Communication-intensive activities are woven through introductory courses in a variety of ways. The well-established Process Oriented Guided Inquiry Learning (POGIL) framework will provide a structured approach to inquiry. Automated feedback on test coverage, programming style and code documentation will be provided through WebTA, a tool that supplements instructor feedback with continual critique of code and documentation. A program of guided inquiry through case studies of software communication prepares students for their team software activities, and a series of reflective exercises will lead them to focus on their own team communication practices.


  • Professor, Computer Science
  • Graduate Program Director, Computer Science

Area of Expertise

  • Distributed Systems
  • Operating Systems
  • Security
  • Computer Science Education
  • Associate Professor, Computer Science
  • Associate Chair, Computer Science
  • Undergraduate Program Director, Computer Science

Area of Expertise

  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Automated Planning and Scheduling
  • Computer Science Education
  • Student Persistence in STEM
  • Professor, Computer Science

Area of Expertise

  • Software Measurement
  • Software Processes
  • Software Engineering Education
  • Women in Computing
  • Retention in Undergraduate CS Education
  • Associate Professor, Computer Science
  • Affiliated Associate Professor, Cognitive and Learning Sciences
  • Faculty Advisor, Humane Interface Design Enterprise

Links of Interest

Area of Expertise

  • Mobile App Design and Usability
  • Software Development and Processes
  • Computer Science Education
Charles Wallace
"The first principle is that you must not fool yourself — and you are the easiest person to fool."
—Richard Feynman
  • Professor, Computer Science
  • Associate Dean for Curriculum & Instruction, College of Computing
  • Affiliated Associate Professor, Cognitive and Learning Sciences

Links of Interest

Areas of Expertise

  • software usability & accessibility
  • gerontechnology
  • smart & connected communities
  • communication in software development
  • agile development methods
  • applied formal methods
  • computing ethics
  • sustainable computing
  • computer science & software engineering education

Explore Computer Science Research