2000-2005 Professional Activities:  Dr. Susan Gerhart

Dr. Susan Gerhart was an Associate Professor of Computer Science and Software Engineering at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Prescott Arizona from August 2000 through May 2005.
Dr. Gerhart taught databases, discrete mathematics, and the software engineering sequence of courses: (1) introduction/survey/lab, (2) advanced programming practices (Java), (3) software analysis and design (UML), and (4) senior design project. She greatly expanded the course and lab use of modern software tools: MS Access (database), Rational Rose (design, UML), Eclipse (interactive development environment, Java), and JUNIT (testing tool). Her courses were notable for their innovative student projects: chatbot help desk, simERAU (like The Sims game), biometrics security, GPS for ROTC terrain group leadership exercises, visually assisted audio file management, flight instructor credential tracking, and many workplace databases. These projects took the students through requirements, design, and validation, usually conducted in teams. Graduates have reported that these courses (a) prepared them for many challenging on-the-job situations, (b) distinguished them as knowledgeable about modern modeling practices and tools, and (c) helped develop their teamwork and communication skills.

Her service activities included the campus curriculum committee (reviewing new degree programs) and the library advisory committee (especially its information technology needs). Dr. Gerhart's outstanding knowledge of computer science helped redesign the computer science curriculum in line with current accreditation and modern computing trends. In 2003-2004, she served as adviser for the newly chartered IEEE Computer Society student chapter. She also introduced faculty and staff to the national movement for FITness (Fluency in Information Technology).

Susan was instrumental, through the Prescott and ERAU chapters of AAUW (American Association of University Women), in bringing stimulating speakers to campus: a "Leadership Symposium for Women in Aviation and Engineering" in 2003; aviation pioneer Irene Leverton in 2004; and, in 2005, NASA astronomer Dr. Anne Kinney plus a Virtual Speaker Series (of notable women). As AAUW-ERAU website operator, she helped raise the visibility of campus women within the Prescott community. She also assisted during summers 2003-2005 in Upward Bound (first generation and low income college-bound students) and advised the ERAU Math/Science Regional Center. Her spirit of social justice and extensive career experience widened diversity awareness on campus.

In 2000, Dr. Gerhart identified an NSF grant opportunity in CyberSecurity training and assembled a team of investigators successful in winning a capacity-building award of $183,000. The goal was to increase expertise in faculty in security and educational technology by building and evaluating interactive course modules for different security topics. She led a student-faculty group that produced a  novel animation of buffer overflows, the culprit behind a majority of current costly security vulnerabilities. Her other module, jointly with aviation transportation experts, developed a multi-modal transportation model under attack from bioterrorists. Implemented as Java applets that run in most browsers, buffer overflows were demonstrated in many software-related courses at ERAU and incorporated into security courses at West Point, U. Virgina, and other universities worldwide (a dozen executions daily). The bioterrorism module supported a scenario session in a Master’s level Aviation Security course. Students reported not only enjoying the interactive opportunities but also accelerated the learning of the key concepts.
The grant's interactive and supporting material was disseminated on a well-designed and effectively-used website http://nsfscurity.pr.erau.edu . Dr. Gerhart presented papers on the buffer overflow module experience to diverse audiences in information security, educational technology, and quality assurance. During the four years of the grant, the university sustained and grew significant student interest toward a minor in security topics.

In addition to interfacing with NSF as the grant's principal investigator, Dr. Gerhart also provided the grant administrative support to set up additional modules in cryptography, personnel screening, and influential dimensions of security. Five undergraduate students were supported under the grant, 2 from the McNair program for graduate school bound students and 1 female ROTC cadet. 
She also provided grant outreach through computer security research mentoring with Upward Bound students and, joint with the Upward Bound director, provided guidance to other Western region Educational Opportunity professionals.

Dr. Gerhart’s other professional development activities included frequent reviewing on NSF panels in education and computer science. She also performed a series of experiments on web search and web content mining leading to a significant paper on “Do Search Engines Suppress Controversy?” with a “Controversy Discovery Search Engine”, accessed at

Dr. Gerhart's background:
B.A., Math, Ohio Wesleyan University; M.S., Communication Sciences, U. Michigan; Ph.D., Computer Science, Carnegie-Mellon University.
Previous employment:
Academic (Duke University, Wang Institute of Graduate Studies); Research (USC Information Sciences Institute, MCC (Austin consortium)); Government (NSF Division Director, NASA UH Research Institute); Self (Research Outlet and Integration).
Major publications:
seminal paper in software testing, Best Paper in IEEE Software (1975), international case study of formal methods application (1992-1994), 5 papers;  published in software engineering conferences; contributions to government strategic planning