CS welcomes Dee Weikle
By: Daniel Vieth
When she first wanted to work with computers for her undergraduate degree, Dee Weikle was told that electrical engineering would be the closest fit. The field of computer science (CS) was still growing, and her alma mater Rice University had only just started a CS program. As the field evolved into its current state, Weikle returned to graduate school, earned her Master’s and PhD in CS and taught the subject to new generations of computer scientists. JMU’s Department of Computer Science welcomed Dr. Dee Weikle as its newest faculty member this semester. Weikle is looking forward to improving her teaching, collaborating with different faculty and promoting new perspectives in the CS field.
Weikle began her career as an engineering scientist at Tracor Aerospace Company, and later worked as an applications engineer for Motorola’s Microprocessor and Memories Group. Prior to coming to JMU, Weikle had been teaching computer science at Eastern Mennonite University for six years. “I did some soul searching last year about what it was that I really wanted to accomplish in my career,” said Weikle. “I first decided that I wanted to be a really good teacher; that I wanted to improve my teaching and be able to collaborate with really good teachers.” Weikle stated that she was excited to collaborate with fellow JMU CS professors Christopher Mayfield, Michael Kirkpatrick, and former graduate school classmate Brett Tjaden.
Weikle’s second goal is to broaden the field of computer science. “I want the field to have more people who think differently, people from different nationalities and backgrounds, all without losing the people we already have,” Weikle continued. “Computers are part of our daily lives now, and any single segment of the population just isn’t going to code great programs for the whole population. We have to have people writing code who represent all different walks of life. That is the only way our programs and technologies can serve all of us.” Weikle explained that she felt she could make a more significant impact with these goals at a larger university. “I realized that I could have more impact here, that JMU would be a little better fit for me, and that it was time for me to move.”
Some of Weikle’s academic interests include computer architecture, workload characterization, computer science education and most recently humanitarian efforts with open-source software development. “These software projects are really interesting to me because they’re a way to make a difference in the world, which has always mattered to me,” said Weikle. “The field of computer science isn’t always associated with humanitarian efforts, but especially now I think you can really impact things with software.” Some examples of different open-source software that are making an impact for people include OpenMRS, a database for medical records used by practitioners in areas that do not have access to health record software; MouseTrap, which uses a computer’s camera to track an individual’s forehead, allowing people with limited mobility to use the computer; and Ushahidi, a software that allows people to report voter corruption in controversial elections in different countries around the world.
Weikle is currently teaching an introductory course for computer science. “I think the biggest thing I want to say to my current students is to not give up, to take on challenges and to not be afraid to fail,” said Weikle. “Do something that’s not comfortable, and stretch yourself, because you always learn something from it.”
Published: Friday, December 2, 2016
Last Updated: Friday, December 2, 2016