New Department Chair Programs Collaboration into Computer Science
Longtime professor and researcher Dave Naumann brings faculty and students together to spark ongoing innovation for the largest major at Stevens
After more than 25 years researching and teaching computer science at Stevens Institute of Technology, Dave Naumann is still fascinated by the computer programming, security and privacy that have been the foundation of his work. But his real passion is solving problems, whether through programming or through working with others.
It’s the ideal mindset for his new role as chair of the Stevens Department of Computer Science, which he took on in August 2022.
“It's an exciting time at Stevens, when we have a lot of growth and a lot of opportunity,” said Naumann, who has served as both a professor and researcher since joining Stevens in 1997. He has also held visiting positions at Princeton University, SRI International and IMDEA Software Institute, and consulted with businesses including Microsoft, Vulcan and Galois.
“While I don’t necessarily see myself as an administrator,” he said, “it's been gratifying to uncover opportunities where I can get involved and help solve a problem, help connect people to work out some difficulty or get resources where they're needed, and help both students and faculty further their careers.”
‘A lot of innovative things are happening here’
Encompassing a quarter of both the undergraduate and graduate students at Stevens, computer science is the university’s largest department in terms of student enrollment, as well as a national leader in this rapidly expanding field. One of Naumann’s goals involves further cementing the department’s standing as a top-notch research center.
“Stevens is relatively small, but we concentrate key areas of strength,” Naumann said.
“We're already known for our excellent academic programs, and we have talented faculty members doing great things with students,” he continued. “As a result, a lot of innovative things are happening here — such as using artificial intelligence to guide decision-making in human health, machine learning to interactively guide nonexpert humans through complex tasks, and programming language techniques to find and mitigate security vulnerabilities in critical software.”
As the campus continues to fill with students interested in computer science and related careers, Naumann aims to focus on hiring and retaining faculty in an increasingly competitive market.
Also top of mind for the new department chair is fostering an even more diverse and vibrant community. His goal is to bring that community together to shape not only the future of the Department of Computer Science, but also the future of technology and its benefit to society. Students are already on board.
“I’m proud that our computer science students are leading the way to create events for student-faculty interaction,” Naumann noted. “In February they’re planning a carnival event to bring student organizations together to set up tables, raise awareness and get to know each other. The research labs will be open and staffed with faculty and Ph.D. students to show what we're doing and get to know each other in those terms.”
Also in the works are a town hall and an event where a panel of seniors will share their experiences and perspectives with newer students. It’s all part of the exciting future Naumann envisions for the next phase of the department that has been his home for a quarter of a century.
“I’m excited to take on this larger role in helping ensure Stevens remains a great place to study and work,” he said. “That includes bringing faculty together to develop a common vision and a strategic plan that reflects that vision. It involves bringing students together to take their experience here to the next level. And, most of all, it means bringing all our stakeholder groups together to foster a diverse and inclusive environment that promotes both research advancements and the next generation of computer science leaders.”