Andy Duan is New Chair of the Computer Science Department

Andy Duan loves his work. Each day, he is excited to begin another day.

“As a professor, I feel I can make a difference. Over the years, I can see the impact I’ve made on my students. Sometimes just one simple word or sentence can impact people’s lives,” he says.

Dr. Duan is the new Department of Computer Science chair and professor. He joins the Michigan Tech College of Computing from the Department of Electrical Engineering and the Computer Science University of Missouri at Columbia, where he was an associate professor and director of the Computer Graphics and Image Understanding Lab. Duan replaces Linda Ott, now emeritus chair of the Computer Science department; Ott remains in the department as a professor of computer science.

“I am extremely excited to have Andy join our team,” says Dennis Livesay, Dave House Dean of Computing. “The Department of Computer Science is doing really well right now, with significant growth in enrollment, faculty, and externally funded research. I’m confident that the future will be even brighter under Andy’s leadership.”

“The College of Computing inspired me,” Duan says. “As one of only a few academic colleges in the nation dedicated to computing, it’s a unique opportunity.”

Duan holds a PhD in Computer Science from the State University of New York at Stony Brook. His research follows two tracks: computer vision, machine learning, and biomedical imaging; and computer graphics, virtual reality, and augmented reality.

On the medical imaging side, Duan actively collaborates with domain experts on applying 3D shape modeling and understanding techniques for biomedical imaging applications. “I’m working with medical imaging to try to reduce human labor and improve accuracy and efficiency,” he explains. “We are not trying to replace physicians, but to enhance their work.”

Duan is the principal investigator of research projects with active awards exceeding $1 million, and over $16M in total external funding. His funding comes from the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, as well as industry. He has published more than 125 refereed journal articles and conference papers.

Duan’s leadership philosophy is based on a consensus-building approach. “I believe that the faculty and chair need to work together to develop successful curricula, attract top-quality students and faculty, generate external research funding, and work with alumni to develop endowment and scholarship opportunities for our students.”

“As the department chair, I will work to build a strong team focused on a sustainable and strong program and pursue efforts to enhance the ranking and the standing of the department among our peers,” he says.

Duan’s interest in computing and computer science came naturally to him. “Computer science is very intuitive; it’s this thing where you can see what you get; it can have a direct impact on human life and society,” he says.

At the University of Missouri at Columbia, Duan was a college-level diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) faculty fellow for close to two years. “That prepared me to do more. A lot of good things are going on at Michigan Tech to address these challenges. I’m hopeful we can work together to find good solutions.”

“Diversity is becoming more and more important,” Duan says. “Different people have different perspectives and origins. Diversity means we have to respect each other, no matter what our background or where we come from.”

“The user is diverse, and there are many use cases to consider, and you have to consider every perspective,” Duan says. “If you claim your software is very good, you need to recognize everything. There are many products on the market that fall short of this mark.”

“Computing in general, computer science in particular, is everywhere nowadays,” Duan says. “It’s now considered general knowledge. Like math and English, today everyone has to have an understanding of computing. It’s important and here to stay.”

“But computing also has a lot of power and we want to be mindful of what we are doing and make sure that it is good for the human being and for the world. We do our work to help someone, and we can be proud of that,” he says.

The Michigan Tech Department of Computer Science offers bachelor of science degrees in Computer ScienceSoftware Engineering, and Cybersecurity, which is offered jointly with the Department of Applied Computing. Graduate programs include master of science degrees in Computer ScienceCybersecurity, and Data Science; and PhD programs in Computer Science and Computational Science and Engineering, which is jointly offered with other Michigan Tech academic departments. It is a department of the Michigan Tech College of Computing, the first and only college focused solely on computing in Michigan, and one of only a few such academic units in the nation.