Distinguished Early-Career Scholar Awarded to Dr. Byron DeVries

February 15, 2021

Distinguished Early-Career Scholar Awarded to Dr. Byron DeVries

Professor of Computing & Information Systems, Dr. Byron DeVries, completed his graduate degree in the GVSU School of Computing & Information Systems in 2013 and then went on to complete his doctoral degree at Michigan State University. In 2017, he came back to GVSU to teach in the same halls he had walked as a student just a few years prior. Now, Dr. DeVries has been recognized for faculty excellence with the GVSU Distinguished Early-Career Scholar Award.

Dr. DeVries’s primary area of research is in a sub-field of software engineering related to the correct specification and verification of critical systems. "Much of my work relates to methods for describing systems without errors and finding errors in existing systems or computational methods to support those efforts,” explained DeVries.

Prior to attending graduate school at GVSU, Dr. DeVries worked for GE Aviation Systems for approximately twelve years. He graduated from the School of CIS at GVSU with a Pass of Distinction, and his thesis was selected as one of the best in 2013. His thesis advisor was Professor Emeritus Dr. Paul Jorgensen who had this to say about Dr. DeVries:

“I gave take-home exams in my grad classes. They take more time, but everyone works harder (including myself). In the CIS 612 class that Byron took, I had a problem that suggests that two theoretical models were equivalent. I asked students to convince themselves, and me, by “populating” a database that describes the important aspects of each model for a particular example system. The exercise is not really a proof, but it is convincing. Byron didn’t do this, BUT he PROVED the two models were equivalent–very impressive. After a couple of years, I got an email from Byron asking if I would supervise his master’s thesis and if I remembered him. How could I forget someone who provided such a powerful answer to an exam question? The rest, as they say, is history.”

Dr. DeVries and Dr. Jorgensen have stayed close over the years, even with Dr. Jorgensen’s retirement. Dr. DeVries and Dr. Jorgensen recently co-authored the 5th edition of Software Testing: A Craftsman’s Approach, expanding the material and modernizing the examples. Software Testing: A Craftsman's Approach is set to be published in June of 2021. Dr. DeVries commented that “I am proud of the practical applicability we have achieved, without sacrificing the fundamental concepts”.

Dr. DeVries’s primary research is in a sub-field of software engineering related to the correct specification and verification of critical systems. He said, “much of my work relates to methods for describing systems without errors and finding errors in existing systems or computational methods to support those efforts”.

We asked Dr. DeVries a few questions to give us a better understanding of who he is:

  1. Why did you choose to become a computer scientist?
    From the first time I wrote a (pretty awful) program in TI-Basic on my TI-83, I felt like there was no limit to what I could build. It was like a massive Lego set, one that only appeared more expansive as I learned. Now it feels like I even get to make my own bricks!
  2. Out of all your accomplishments, what are you the proudest of? What is your next goal in your career?
    I am most proud of the accomplishments of the student researchers with who I have worked with. It is especially rewarding to see their own interests come out, often in areas outside of my own direct expertise. My hope is that I will be able to continue to work with bright student researchers, who bring their own unique ideas, while I work towards a cohesive framework for specifying and verifying AI-generated software.
  3. How has teaching, research, and service activities been for you in the past year? How have you handled working from home and what advice do you give your students who might be struggling with virtual school?
    More than anything else, what I miss most is the community of the university. I can only imagine the shift in the college experience students face and would encourage them to make time to maintain their friendships – even if virtually – to maintain their mental health. A healthy mind makes mental work easier, even when it feels like it takes up time.
  4. Who was the most influential person in your life that has made you who you are?
    I have been fortunate that there have been influential people at multiple points in my life – parents, friends, professors, research and thesis advisors, and more. Each of which has had an impact that has shifted the trajectory of my life. However, I likely would have never started graduate school if it weren’t for my wife, Angela. While graduate school was always something I intended to do, after becoming comfortable after years in industry I only took that step after my wife started her own Master’s program and I saw how much she got out of it.
  5. What is your favorite ice cream flavor, a restaurant in the Grand Rapids area, and activity/hobby you enjoy?
    Mint-Chocolate Chip is, by far, the best ice-cream. While not in Grand Rapids, Dockers in Muskegon has the best lobster rolls. I have found it within driving distance from GR and provides a good spot to have fun on the water (preferably when it is a liquid).
  6. If you could give advice to yourself when you were college-aged, what advice would you give?
    I avoided office hours, not realizing just how bored professors are waiting for students! I would have encouraged my past self, and any other college student, to get to know your professors.

Congratulations Dr. Byron DeVries! If you’d like to see more of his work or contact him please visit his website.

This article was originally published on the CIS News page

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Page last modified February 15, 2021