Profiles / Voices

Dr. Juan E. Gilbert


IDEaS Professor and Chair of Human-Centered Computing, School of Computing, Clemson University

Dr. Juan E. Gilbert is a Professor and Chair of the Human-Centered Computing Division in the School of Computing at Clemson University where he leads the Human-Centered Computing Lab. He is also a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement Science (AAAS), an ACM Distinguished Scientist, National Associate of the National Research Council of the National Academies, an ACM Distinguished Speaker and a Senior Member of the IEEE Computer Society. Dr. Gilbert was recently named one of the 50 most important African-Americans in Technology.

IDEaS Professor and Chair of Human-Centered Computing, School of Computing, Clemson University
Dr. Juan E. Gilbert is a Professor and Chair of the Human-Centered Computing Division in the School of Computing at Clemson University where he leads the Human-Centered Computing Lab. He is also a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement Science (AAAS), an ACM Distinguished Scientist, National Associate of the National Research Council of the National Academies, an ACM Distinguished Speaker and a Senior Member of the IEEE Computer Society. Dr. Gilbert was recently named one of the 50 most important African-Americans in Technology.
Dr. Juan Gilbert – educator, researcher, innovator, STEM champion. The third child of four children, Dr. Gilbert recalls his love for Science Fiction movies and the affinity for whichever character wore the lab coat and always seemed to have the answers. Growing up in Hamilton, Ohio, it was Dr. Gilbert’s parents who first instilled in him and his siblings the value of a strong work ethic. His father was a Korean War veteran with an eighth grade education and successful entrepreneur who supported his family with the income generated from his auto paint and body shop. His parents always promoted the idea that Dr. Gilbert and his siblings were not bound by limits. Anything they could imagine they could accomplish. “They also taught us to never forget where we came from and to help others.”
Dr. Gilbert’s academic career was not without its challenges. As the first in his family to even pursue higher education, Dr. Gilbert wasn’t initially convinced he wanted to grace the halls of anyone’s graduate school. He majored in Chemistry at Miami University, then switched to the Systems Analysis program, but didn’t seriously consider graduate school until he discovered his passion for educating others.
He earned his MS in Computer Science at University of Cincinnati then went on to pursue his PhD at Ohio State University. When his academic advisor left the university after being denied tenure, Gilbert suddenly found himself with need a mentor or anyone in his research area to provide support and guidance through the rest of his program. At the behest of Dr. Chia Han, he returned to the University of Cincinnati and was able to complete his PhD inside of three years.
Dr. Gilbert is very passionate about the STEM field and wants to combat the notion so prevalent in African American youth that STEM careers areboring and suited better for white men. It’s a misconception that manifests as a real deterrent which needs to be addressed. “STEM is exciting!” he proclaims.“People often think that STEM researchers and practitioners work with phenomenon or artifacts, not people.” Dr. Gilbert is firm in his belief that such misconception is a primary reason why African Americans choose careers outside of the STEM fields. “We don’t see how STEM disciplines can be used to give back and help others. As a result, we tend to major in social science, education, medicine, etc.”
Dr. Gilbert’s love for and achievements in science have caused his strong work ethic to feel like anything but, as far as he’s concerned. He loves his job, loves the work, and is grateful that his parents trained him to believe in the possibility and profitability of following his own passion. As well, being brought up to value the idea of giving back, he uses his gifts and intellect to directly impact society. “I would like to make it clear that STEM disciplines can be used to benefit others. In computing, we develop systems/applications that help people vote, learn, etc.” And he is a strong proponent for the necessity of scientists and engineers to become more culturally aware and develop “innovative solutions to real world problems by integrating people, technology, information, policy and sometimes culture.”
Dr. Gilbert and his team are currently working to develop and bring to market an electronic voting system intended to offer people the ability to vote independently and privately using touch or voice recognition technology. For some who may be blind, deaf, maimed or perhaps not be able to read, Prime III (www.PrimeVotingSystem.org) affords them the opportunity to use the same technology, same machine, same tools as everyone else.It’s invention is a prime example of how STEM can and does impact real world function.Its availability will be a definite state of the art advancement in voting technology.

 

EDITED BY SORILBRAN BUCKNER

Best Advice

I was told "You should be a professor" and I followed that advice.

My Mentors and Why

have several mentors because no man is an island and I didn't get to where I am alone. However, Dr. Bryant York from Portland State University has probably provided me with more mentoring than anyone else.

Quotes I Live By

I don't have a single favorite quote, I actually have several: "If you could build a system that resulted in world peace, but no one could use it ... it would be useless. Usability matters." - Gilbert "Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. This is the interrelated structure of reality." – MLK "We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an act, but a habit." - Aristotle "Do what you gotta do, so you can do what you want to do." - Denzel Washington

Invent One Thing

Good question, I really don't know. The things I have wanted to invent, we have invented them. We invented Prime III, we have also invented Voiceing (www.VoiceTextingResearch.org), we have also invented AADMLSS (www.aadmlss.org) where we use hip-hop and game-like interfaces to teach math.

More About

We build innovative solutions to real world problems by integrating people, technology, information, policy and sometimes culture. For example, we have developed Prime III, www.PrimeVotingSystem.org. Prime III is an innovative electronic voting system we developed in my research lab. Prime III allows people to vote by touch and/or voice. Therefore, if you can't see, hear, if you can't read or if you don't have arms, you still can privately and independently vote on the same machines as everyone else. This is an example where our scholarly research activities have resulted in a real world proof of concept that will advance the state of the art in voting.
We have also invented Voiceing (www.VoiceTextingResearch.org), we have also invented AADMLSS (www.aadmlss.org) where we use hip-hop and game-like interfaces to teach math.

Book Currently Reading

Right now, I am not reading any specific books. I tend to read research articles right now. I am in a zone right now where I am doing some in depth research, so I haven't had a chance to read any good books right now. I’m also doing a great deal of reading of newspapers as well.