David G. Kay

A Perfect Fit

With degrees in law and computer science, David Kay fits the cross-disciplinary focus of informatics, bridging the technical and social aspects of computing. His diverse interests have fueled a passion for teaching students at all levels, from a graduate seminar in computer law to a general education class on “how computers work.” He trains new teachers at different levels, too: new graduate student TAs, advanced undergrads in the campus-wide UTeach program and lab assistants for introductory programming classes.

The Energy in the Room

Kay’s largest course is ICS 31, Introduction to Programming. “With the recent nationwide boom in computer science enrollments, our classes have grown immensely,” he says. “In fall 2012, we had 500 students in ICS 31; in fall 2013, 600; and last year, the number went up to 700. It’s just great — there’s an incredible energy you get from a room like that.” And reaching all those people can be very rewarding. “I love working with students,” he says. “Opening new doors and teaching them to think in innovative ways, helping them discover new abilities and areas of inquiry — it’s all tremendously exciting.”

Creating Change

For Kay, creating positive impact is the overarching goal. “The bottom line is that information technology pervades our lives,” he says. “The better we can understand it, the better we can design and build it and, ultimately, the better our lives will be.” He brings this message into the classroom every day. “By introducing projects inspired by real-world challenges,” he says, “we train students from day one to appreciate the true potential of information technology to effect meaningful — and lasting — change.”

“Because computing has its own school at UC Irvine, rather than residing with engineering or math, we have developed in unique directions.”

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