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Justin Smith

Assistant professor of computer science

Ph.D., computer science, North Carolina State University

What I’m teaching

Digital Media Computing and Human Computer Interaction, which will pair students with community partners with the goal of making computer applications more usable and addressing diversity issues that may arise in software development.

What I’m focused on

I study the human aspects of software engineering. Computer science often focuses on how to make this code run more efficiently or how we can create a new programming language. But I study the people behind the processes. Any application or piece of software was written by someone, and it’s used by someone. I’m interested in those people and those experiences. A lot of the research I do resembles psychology or sociology more than it does mathematics or computer science or the hard sciences. It can range from the ethical decisions software engineers make in their day-to-day work to the types of tools they use.

What drew me to Lafayette

In one word, I would say community. I love the sense of a small liberal arts school where you get to know people by walking around campus, especially when it’s beyond your department. You get more diverse conversations and richer interaction and get to know your students on a more personal level. You can understand what drew them to computer science and what they are interested in outside the classroom, which helps me enrich what I’m presenting in class.

What students can expect

I expect students to participate actively; I don’t what to be standing up there just lecturing. I want students to come to my office so I can get to know them as people. I want them to participate actively as they learn. Instead of watching me do a code solution and emulating what I do, I want them to tinker with it for a while and try to figure things out on their own when they get stuck.

Professor Justin Smith holds a computer keyboard.What I’m holding

So much of my research is focused on human-computer interaction and how people interact with the digital world. The computer mouse and keyboard symbolize that interaction. We don’t always think about how we interact with the world, but it almost always comes back to these basic tools.

What’s not on my CV

I love to cook and gained a deep appreciation for food and cooking while working as a dishwasher, line cook, and kitchen manager during summers before getting into computer science. My wife is a recipe developer and a food writer, and we’re always trying out a new recipe for enjoyment. She recently developed a recipe for no-bake peanut butter bars. I taste-tested each iteration and am only slightly embarrassed about how many I ate.

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