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Christian Lopez Bencosme

Assistant professor of computer science

Ph.D., industrial and manufacturing engineering, Penn State University

What I’m teaching

A module of Introduction to Engineering, focusing on Design & Data Mining, and one section of Introduction to Game Programing

What I’m focused on

My research interests are in the design and optimization of intelligent decision support systems and persuasive technologies to augment human proficiencies. What this means is that I work on designing and creating systems to help make better decisions and help improve task performance by integrating state-of-the-art technologies, such as machine learning and virtual reality. In some cases, these systems need to be able to motivate individuals as well, hence the use of persuasive technologies like gamification. The technologies and systems I am interested in have great potential for advancing the fields of education, business, and health and wellness. I am a firm believer that our inspiration for innovation should stem from the need to help others and improve their quality of life, hence my interest in using technology to enhance human capabilities.

What drew me to Lafayette

During my initial visits to Lafayette, the thing that impressed me the most was the student-faculty relationship. Coming out from a Big 10 university, I was thrilled to see how faculty have time to get to know students, what motivates them, and their passion, something that reminded me of my own undergraduate institution. Even now, I am impressed to see how alumni make the effort to visit Lafayette to see not only their alma mater but their old professors as well. Another big reason that drew me to Lafayette was the president’s strategic plan of growth, for which I am excited to contribute and work toward making this vision a reality.

What students can expectI am a high-energy person, something that reflects in my classes. My goal is to inspire the intellectual curiosity of students and help them to develop analytical and problem-solving skills to address societal problems. Students can expect a lot of hands-on activities to incentivize active learning. I am not the biggest fan of the lecture style of teaching, a reason why I strive to implement flipped classrooms as much as possible. This style of teaching helps students develop problem-solving and continues learning skills, which are of great value in this globalized, fast-changing world. Students can also expect to interact with some of the technologies I used in my research, such as virtual reality, persuasive technologies, and game-based learning applications. Moreover, thanks to my research I am mindful of the importance of students’ heterogeneity and diversity since what motivates one student might not motivate another. 

Christian Lopez Bencosme holds before-and-after photos of a 1985 CJ-7 Jeep he and his dad restored.What I’m holding

I am holding a before-and-after picture of the 1985 CJ-7 Jeep my father and I restored when I was a youth. I wanted a Humvee, but this is closest thing we could find. I am showing a before-and-after picture since sometimes it is hard to appreciate that behind any great success story there is a lot of hard work and challenges that were overcome. This project, which took approximately seven years, taught me a lot about the value of determination. It taught me that anything is possible, and if you really want something, and you are determined to achieve it, you just need to create a plan, work hard, and focus. You will always encounter challenges and failures that will make you doubt yourself and your ability to achieve your dream. Make these challenges and failures valuable learning experiences to growth, and they will make you value your dream even more. Finally, another big lesson I learned is that we need to appreciate the small things in life. I like to say, “Focus on the finish line, but don’t forget to enjoy the race.” I spent seven years working on this Jeep but only was able to use it for less than three years. The most joyful memories I have come from those seven years when I was working on it and learning new things.

What’s not on my CV

I love to understand how things work and fix them, so I am constantly taking things apart to fix them. I enjoy working on cars and learning new things.

Categorized in: Academic News, Computer Science, Faculty and Staff, Faculty Profiles, New Faculty, News and Features