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Clifford A. Shaffer named W.S. 'Pete' White Professor

August 9, 2016

Clifford Shaffer
Clifford Shaffer

Clifford A. Shaffer, professor of computer science in the College of Engineering at Virginia Tech, has been awarded the W.S. “Pete” White Chair for Innovation in Engineering Education by the Virginia Tech Board of Visitors.

The W.S. “Pete” White Chair for Innovation in Engineering Education was established by American Electric Power to honor Pete White, a 1948 graduate of Virginia Tech, and to encourage new interest in the teaching of engineering and improve the learning process. Recipients hold the chair for a period of two years.

A member of the Virginia Tech faculty since 1987, Shaffer is well known for his work in two areas—tools for on-line interactive learning and student data analytics—that are receiving considerable attention by the engineering education community today.

Shaffer’s recent work includes the OpenDSA (Open Source Interactive Data Structures and Algorithms) project, which is an Active-eBook used in key computer science courses at Virginia Tech. OpenDSA includes explanatory tutorials, visualizations, and interactive exercises.

A key contribution of OpenDSA is to link evaluation and interactive assessment data with the tutorials and visualizations. Measures of student achievement are already showing positive benefits.

Shaffer is now expanding the impact of OpenDSA by developing modules for other computer science courses and by forming collaborations outside computer science and outside Virginia Tech. He is working with colleagues at Duke University and the University of Wisconsin to develop interactive textbooks for courses in programming languages, translators, and formal languages.
Shaffer also collaborates across the College of Engineering to develop interactive exercises for mechanics courses. He is bringing together a group of faculty and students from the college to discuss the theory and practice of collecting and analyzing student performance and assessment data.
Shaffer is a senior member of the Association of Computing Machinery, senior member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, and a member of the American Society for Engineering Education. He serves on the editorial boards for Simulation, AACE Journal of Interactive Learning Research, Association for the Advancement of Computing in Engineering Journal of Computers in Mathematics and Science Teaching, and International Journal of Computational Science.
Shaffer received his bachelor's degree, master’s degree, and doctoral degree from the University of Maryland.

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