Christopher HundhausenChristopher Hundhausen, professor of computer science and associate head for online programs in the School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at Oregon State University, clearly recalls his first experiences with a computer as a teenager when a friend got an Apple IIe and the two played video games on the state-of-the-art machine.

Hundhausen took a computer class the next year as a high school sophomore. There he learned to program in BASIC and ultimately created an animation depicting an occasion when a friend got a speeding ticket.

“It was maybe a minute long, and it was quite sophisticated at the time to do that,” he said.

That sparked Hundhausen’s interest in programming, so he took additional courses and found an early mentor in a high school teacher who agreed to help him with an independent study project in his senior year.

Hundhausen attended Lawrence University in Wisconsin, where he worked for four years with a professor on a National Science Foundation-funded research project, using visual representations to help people understand how computer algorithms work.

“In the processing of learning computer science, my interest in computing education came to the fore,” he said. “I saw that algorithms are complicated, and providing visual representations and animations could help people understand how they work.”

The project, however, didn’t allow the duo to evaluate the effectiveness of their efforts, which led Hundhausen to become interested in human-computer interaction.

He earned master’s and doctoral degrees at the University of Oregon, where his research focused on computer science education and how to study people in the context of their use of computers.

“I want to promote valuable conversations about how algorithms work using computer technology,” he said. “My perspective is that the computer system is just a resource that mediates conversations that learners have with each other and with their instructors.”

Hundhausen spent 19 years on the faculty at Washington State University, where his work included building online environments to support computer science education. This area of his research became more of a pressing issue when the COVID-19 pandemic thrust everyone into teaching online.

In 2022, he jumped at the opportunity to work at Oregon State as the associate head for online programs in the School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science.

“Oregon State’s enthusiasm for online learning and the overwhelming success of the Ecampus programs was just so impressive — it’s just a great fit,” he said. “The tremendous administrative, faculty and staff support, and the whole Ecampus enterprise is exactly what I dreamed of.”

Hundhausen’s first initiative will be to expand experiential learning for online computer science students by developing a curriculum that includes vertically integrated projects, a national engineering educational initiative pioneered by Ed Coyle, a professor at Georgia Tech.

After students develop a foundation in programming, he explained, they become integrated into an authentic software development project that they continue working on until they graduate.

Christopher Hundhausen speed golfing Christopher Hundhausen is passionate about the sport of speed golf and regularly plays 27 holes in less than 90 minutes before the workday begins.

In this model, students have the experience of being a new hire, a midlevel software developer, and then a senior software developer where they can mentor newer team members as they come on board. The students work on legacy code bases instead of writing code from scratch, which is how most software engineers work.

“One of the arguments against our current model in academia is that students do far too much programming from scratch,” Hundhausen said. “They do small-scale projects and don’t have to understand someone else’s code or talk to others about how existing code works. When they get in the real world, they’re ill-prepared to work on huge legacy code bases.”

In addition to his role in online programs, Hundhausen is also the director of the Center for Research in Engineering Education Online, or CREEdO, a College of Engineering research center focused on online engineering education.

Having been interested in developing online technologies to support education for decades, Hundhausen is excited about the prospect of having a vibrant online engineering education research community that includes all engineering disciplines.

“We’ll leverage our resources in online learning to gain new insights into how to do this right, and we can directly apply our research to our own program to improve it,” he said. We’re looking to be a difference-maker, not only in publication and dissemination, but also making own online degree program evidence-based, backed by our own research.”

When he’s not working, Hundhausen is passionate about speed golf, a sport that combines running and golf. A player’s score is a combination of the number of strokes and the time taken to complete the round.

He enjoys speed golf so much that during a recent sabbatical, he developed the world’s first speed golf scoring system on a mobile app and deployed it at tournaments in New Zealand, Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

Hundhausen regularly plays 27 holes of speed golf in less than 90 minutes before the workday begins. By comparison, 18 holes of traditional golf can take four to five hours.

He’s also writing a textbook on full stack web development and is incorporating the speed golf application in examples throughout the book. The book is scheduled to be published by Morgan Kaufmann in 2023.

“I’m combining my love for speed golf and my love for computer science in writing this textbook,” he said.