Michigan Tech Computer Science Professor Wins Fulbright Scholarship
December 4, 2009—
Charles Wallace, an associate professor of computer science at Michigan Technological University, has been named a Fulbright Scholar. He will spend six months teaching and conducting research in the Computer Science Department at the Pontificia Universidad Católica in Santiago, Chile, starting in March 2010.
The Fulbright Program is the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the US government. It is designed to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and other countries. Highly competitive, the awards were established in 1946 by the late Sen. J. William Fulbright of Arkansas.
Wallace’s research interests are in software engineering, particularly the challenges of communicating about software. He helped create the undergraduate software engineering degree program at Michigan Tech, developing new courses and teaching materials and conducting sponsored research in software engineering curriculum development.
While at Pontificia Universidad Católica, Wallace plans to help the university develop a software engineering specialty curriculum there. He is also looking forward to investigating the complexities that non-native speakers of English encounter when trying to communicate with the English-dominated software industry.
Linda Ott, chair of computer science at Michigan Tech, said she is “intrigued by his plans to expand his research in communicating about software to the issues related to non-native English speakers communicating about software in an industry where English is assumed to be the language of discourse.”
Ott went on to say: “Dr. Wallace has many years of experience in developing software engineering curricula, which should be of great value to the faculty in Chile. We have had almost no interaction with students or universities in South America, so this is a great opportunity to expand our reach. I anticipate long-term collaborations developing between the two departments.”
Wallace said he sees similarities between Michigan Tech and Pontificia Universidad Católica. “Despite its urban setting (in Santiago, the capital of Chile), the university is far from the software industry’s centers in the Northern Hemisphere,” he pointed out. “Michigan Tech’s rural setting can be a similar limitation, particularly in regard to developing a broad world view among the students.”
To counteract that, Michigan Tech’s Computer Science Department has actively pursued exchange agreements with universities in China, Finland, India, Norway and Malaysia. “I see this as an opportunity for building a similar relationship among faculty and students at our two institutions,” Wallace said.
The computer scientist earned a bachelor’s degree in linguistics at the University of Pennsylvania, a master’s in linguistics at the University of California Santa Cruz, and a PhD in computer science and engineering at the University of Michigan.
His wife, Susanna, and their two children will accompany him to Chile. They plan to arrive in January, which is summertime in the Southern Hemisphere. “I will miss shoveling my driveway every day,” Wallace said with a grin.
Michigan Technological University (www.mtu.edu) is a leading public research university developing new technologies and preparing students to create the future for a prosperous and sustainable world. Michigan Tech offers more than 130 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in engineering; forest resources; computing; technology; business; economics; natural, physical and environmental sciences; arts; humanities; and social sciences.