Empirical Research (Can) Lead to Industrial Impact; Learning from Experience

David C. Shepherd

David C. Shepherd

David Shepherd is an Associate Professor in the Department of Computer Science at Louisiana State University. He earned his Ph.D. and M.S. in Computer Science at the University of Delaware, and his B.S. in Computer Science at Virginia Commonwealth University. David has since worked as a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Computer Science at the University of British Columbia, built sweat equity as employee #9 at Tasktop Technologies, and rose to Senior Principal Scientist at ABB Corporate Research. His research has produced tools that have been used by thousands, innovations that have been featured in the popular press, and practical ideas that have won business plan competitions. Dr. Shepherd currently serves as the Co-Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Systems & Software. His current work focuses on enabling end-user programming for industrial machines, increasing diversity in computer science, and using VR to treat ADHD.


“The Pasteur’s quadrant approach implies that it is possible to couple, simultaneously, the development of fundamental science to the solution of problems important to society." -Donald Stokes

Too often software engineering research lives in an alternate, academic world, completely divorced from the reality of industrial practice. The ESEM community, pioneered by researchers like Victor Basili and strengthened by countless researchers, aims to destroy this false dichotomy. Through case studies, qualitative studies, and academia-industry collaborations this field seeks to learn about and influence industrial practice. In this talk I will detail my experience with industrial-facing research, with an eye towards techniques that were fruitful, as well as approaches that fell short. By sharing my experiences, from my success working with ABB Robotics to my frustrations when releasing open source software development tools, my hope is that the ESEM community can be better equipped in their goal of studying and influencing the software engineering industry.