New Faculty Spotlight: Clay Stevens

February 15, 2024
News

Meet Clay Stevens, our new Assistant Professor of Computer Science. He started in August of 2023. His research focuses on software engineering and formal methods.

"At Iowa State, I have access to many successful and prolific researchers as well as an excellent pool of students. There are also many companies---both local and large, multi-national ones---who partner with Iowa State and can provide project ideas, data, and motivation for my research. In all, the support of my research here is second to none."

 

What drew you to join the Computer Science Department here at Iowa State?

As a software engineering researcher, there is no better place! We have one of the top software engineering programs in the country. I’m very excited to be a part of the department here at Iowa State!

In what ways do you think being at Iowa State enhances your opportunities as a software engineering researcher?

At Iowa State, I have access to many successful and prolific researchers as well as an excellent pool of students. There are also many companies---both local and large, multi-national ones---who partner with Iowa State and can provide project ideas, data, and motivation for my research. In all, the support of my research here is second to none.

What attracted you to software engineering?

Before coming back for my PhD, I worked for more than a decade as a professional software engineer and architect. In that role, I learned there is much more to developing software than simply writing code. The challenges I encountered there led quite naturally to my research in software engineering.

How can the average person be impacted by your research?

Everyone uses software all day long, whether they know it or not. My research can help make it easier (and therefore cheaper!) for software engineers to build secure, dependable software. This will ultimately make our everyday interactions with software easier, cheaper, and less frustrating.

What are your long-term goals or aspirations?

It’s been wonderful to work and collaborate with so many high-quality researchers. I look forward to working on many exciting projects in the years to come. In particular I’m hoping to develop tools and techniques for software architects / designers to better plan and direct software development.

What is one thing you hope that students who work or study with you will walk away with?

I would like my students to understand that writing and building software is itself a creative activity. Often I think STEM fields suffer from the notion that they are “technical” and constrained, but that is not my experience—there is still a great deal of room for creativity and beauty here.

What is one thing you enjoy doing outside of computer science?

I occasionally perform in local theater productions, most recently appearing in a production of Macbeth with a local Shakespeare troupe. I’ve also played parts in various musicals and other independent shows. These days, my kids take up most of my “spare” time, though.

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