Dr. Paúl Pauca, professor of computer science, is taking the reigns as faculty director of the ICE program. Professor Pauca’s specialized interests are in computational imaging science, data analysis, mobile computing, and entrepreneurship with applications in space surveillance (detecting and identifying man-made objects orbiting the Earth), remote sensing through LiDAR and hyperspectral imaging, biometric identification, and human-computer interaction for disabilities.
Pauca was named one of the top 20 NBC Latino Innovators of the year in 2012. His interest in mobile computing and entrepreneurship arose from the tremendous need he saw in local schools for children with disabilities for modern and affordable assistive technology, particularly associated with speech and communication.
Through his research and teaching work, Professor Pauca and his students have been turning mobile devices and wearable sensors into assistive tools for people with disabilities. His initial work, an iPhone/iPad app called Verbal Victor, has been featured in media outlets nationally and internationally. He is passionate about helping students discover computer science through hands-on experimentation, teamwork, and an applications-first approach.
Along with colleagues Drs. Burg and Santago, Professor Pauca recently developed the STEM incubator initiative allowing underclassmen and non-computer science students to explore computer science through real-world applications and hands-on problem solving. Some of the projects that have been developed through the STEM incubator, in collaboration with Professor Bill Conner, include assistive echo-location based wearable devices for the blind, sound visualizers through virtual reality for the deaf, and feeding assistant devices for people with complete paralysis such as Guillian-Barré.
Pauca is also a ’94 Wake Forest University alum.
Michele Gillespie, Dean of Wake Forest College, says “Professor Pauca is a longtime faculty member of the ICE Faculty Council. Pauca is an innovative teacher who helped lead the 1-credit STEM Incubator initiative as a “low-stakes” entry point for students not traditionally interested in computer science, he is also an active researcher and an entrepreneur interested in developing highly affordable modern technology that can apply computer science to the benefit of society.”
Paúl Pauca replaces Professor Bill Conner who served the ICE program for more than a decade. Under his guidance, faculty passed the entrepreneurship and social enterprise minor in 2005. Since then, 64 courses with entrepreneurship as a central theme have been added to the curriculum. In spring 2016, Professor Connor decided to step down from his role as Farr Chair and ICE Faculty Director to return full-time to teaching and scholarship in the Biology Department.