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Shaping the Future of Software
Act II: Academia

by Alicia P. Gregory

"I was to the point where I had to commit to executive management for the rest of my career," Hayes says, "but I'd been itching to go into the academic world for quite a while. I figured this was really my last chance to go and do something different."

Photo of Jane Hayes in her classroom(From left) Trevor Barnett, Sarah Howard, Jane Hayes, Karthik Ramkumar, and Ramkumar Singh talk about life-cycle models for software development in CS616, one of three graduate-level software engineering courses Hayes has created since coming to UK in 2001.

That itch lead to an interview at UK. Miroslaw Truszczynski, computer science chairman, says, "She definitely had strong academic credentials, our primary consideration, but what truly set Jane Hayes apart from other people in the pool was her significant industrial experience. That is very important because we need people who can relate their own experiences to our students and who can convincingly speak about what careers await them.

"She had a very clear vision, which I thought was quite different from the rest of the people we interviewed. She knew what she wanted to do." Hayes would be tackling more than the usual responsibilities of developing a research program and teaching students; her teaching role would involve building a curriculum from scratch because there were no software engineering courses at UK. "She was looking for that type of opportunity," Truszczynski says.

Her eagerness was important because the department knew the absence of software engineering was a weakness of the UK program, he says. "Over the years, in conversations with people in computer and software companies in the Lexington area, they had complained about a lack of understanding—not only in our graduates, but in graduates from other programs as well—of the process through which software is designed, assessed and redesigned."

Since her arrival at UK (under the Research Challenge Trust Fund initiative) in January of 2001, Hayes has developed three graduate-level courses. "Her classes have very high enrollment. There would probably be 40 to 50 students in each class if we let them—we try to limit it to 30 to 35 students—but there's certainly more interest than seats in the class," says Truszczynski. The computer science department has 200 graduate students and between 400 and 500 undergrads.

UK is a different world from industry, but not one for which Hayes was unprepared. "I had a lot of friends at SAIC who were very worried about me switching worlds. 'It's going to be too slow paced for you.' 'You're going to hate all the bureaucracy.' And they've been wrong," Hayes says.

"Dr. Truszczynski is a top-notch chairman, and I've been really impressed with Dr. Jim Griffioen, who runs the Laboratory for Advanced Networking [and is Hayes's neighbor in the Hardymon building]. And I'm blessed with a wonderful mentor, Judy Goldsmith." Goldsmith is an associate professor in the computer science department.

"My friends at SAIC tease me because I'll say, 'We just got a $46,000 grant! We're doing great.' And they're like 'What? If we came to you and said we just got a $46,000 subcontract—you'd say, For a month?'" While the dollar differences are substantial, Hayes says, the interaction with students is a reward in itself.

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