Charles Wallace Named MASU Michigan Distinguished Professor of the Year

Charles Wallace, Department of Computer Science

The Michigan Association of State Universities (MASU) has announced that Associate Professor Charles Wallace, Department of Computer Science, has received the 2024 Michigan Distinguished Professor of the Year award, which recognizes the outstanding contributions and dedication exhibited by the faculty from Michigan’s 15 public universities to the education of undergraduate students.

Dr. Wallace has served on the Michigan Tech Department of Computer Science faculty since 2000. He earned his bachelor of arts in linguistics from the University of Pennsylvania, a master’s of arts in linguistics from the University of California, and a doctorate in computer science and engineering from the University of Michigan.

Wallace was also nominated for Michigan Tech’s 2024 Distinguished Teaching Award, which recognizes outstanding contributions to Michigan Tech’s instructional mission. He was featured in MTU’s Deans’ Teaching Showcase in January 2024 and is a candidate for Michigan Tech’s 2024 CTL Instructional Award Series.

Visit Dr. Wallace’s faculty website. Read more blogs about Dr. Wallace here.

Dr. Wallace’s research is primarily in the areas of computing education, software usability, and ethics. His work is nationally recognized and supported by external funding, including from the National Science Foundation. In addition to his extraordinary research, Dr. Wallace often puts his colleagues’ research into practice. He views their research as an asset, not as competition. He helped design MTU’s software engineering program and remains actively involved in student advising. Furthermore, collaborating with colleagues, he partnered with other researchers to make connections between computing and other disciplines, particularly in the social sciences and humanities.

Specifically, last year Dr. Wallace led a team that created a series of events called Robot101. Robot101 celebrated the 101st anniversary of the term “robot,” which was coined in Čapek’s play R.U.R. (Rossum’s Universal Robots). The activities included discussions of the play and its adaptations, which collectively represented a university-wide discussion of opportunities and threats around technology, automation, and AI. He also co-designed and co-taught a course titled Read Write Engage with colleagues in literature, philosophy, and history, re-envisioning first-year composition as a way of exploring meaningful issues surrounding technology.

Wallace helped establish CS3000 Ethical and Social Aspects of Computing as a required course for Michigan Tech computer science and software engineering majors. The course takes a broad, critical perspective on computing technology. Wallace finds that his students are up for the challenge: “Today’s students are more techno-streetwise than members of my generation. Having grown up immersed in social media, they understand its potential for exploitation and abuse as well as good, and they are eager and able to investigate technology with a more mature, critical mindset.”

Dr. Wallace has also made significant contributions to his local community. He developed and delivered programs for adults and children to help improve digital literacy, and recruited students to help teach and deliver these courses, allowing them to improve their technical and interpersonal skills while serving the community. His Building Adult Skills in Computing (BASIC) program pairs students with digitally marginalized residents of the local community, helping them build competence and confidence. In Copper Country Coders, students design and lead classes in computer science and programming for middle and high school students in the community.

For his efforts in both the classroom and the community, Dr. Wallace has received additional national recognition, including presenting at a White House Conference on Aging, the U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing, and Trade, and the National Academy of Sciences.

Wallace is one of three outstanding faculty to be awarded the 2024 MASU Michigan Distinguished Professor of the Year award. The other two professors in the state to receive the award are Brad Waller from Grand Valley State University, and Shay Dawson from Central Michigan University.