Prof. Rory O'Connor (R.I.P.) - Head of School 2014-2019

RoryOConnorRIPThis summer the death of Prof. Rory O'Connor, head of the DCU School of Computing was announced. He died unexpectedly, but very peacefully, while on holiday in France with his beloved family. Colleagues described him as a gifted and enthusiastic researcher, educator, a kind and generous colleague and a great friend. It was a shock, a huge loss for all of us in the School of Computing and, of course, enormous loss for his young family.

Twice graduate of DCU (BSc in Computer Applications, 1993; MSc in Computing 1995), Rory undertook his PhD(2000) at City, University of London, after which he joined the School of Computing. He was a visiting professor at the University of Iceland in 2006-2007, and had close research ties with Dundalk Institute of Technology.

Rory led the School of Computing for almost 6 years (2014-2019), during which time there was very significant expansion in research activities growth in academic and research staff, major facilities upgrade and important programme innovations (including delivery of a master’s programme abroad). Rory was a mentor to PhD students, early career researchers and academics, and taught by example the value of ongoing professional development. He was student-focused in all of his work. Within the University he was a member of serval key university committees, including the IT governance  Committee and the Academic Promotions Committee.

Rory’s research focused on processes by which software intensive systems are designed, implemented and managed, and he was a member of Lero, the SFI funded Software Research Centre. In his field, his impact was very significant: 74 peer reviewed journal papers, 174 peer reviewed conferences papers, 20 book chapters and 28 edited books attracted multiple best paper awards, invitations to give keynote addresses, and invitations to act on journal editorial boards. His collaborators span the globe, and publication metrics include top 10 world ranking positions related to Software subject areas.

Rory held positions of editor in Chief and Senior Associate Editor for leading publications in his field. His research was highly industry-relevant, and his active network in the software industry numbers over 100 companies. He was viewed as enormously influential in the Software Process community, in particular in the prestigious EuroSPI, ICSSP and SPICE  inference series, where he was a long standing leader in the Conference Boards/advisory committees. He founded the GmifySPI, now in its 5 th iteration and was the founding chairperson of the Irish Software Testing Board (08-12). He was an invited member of the International Software and System Process Association, a member of the Irish Computer Society and British Computer Society. He served on the ICT committee of the British Irish Chamber of Commerce. Rory was an active member of the international standards community, appointed by NSAI to ISO/IEC standards bodies (having been the National Head of Delegation for Ireland to ISO/IECJTC1 SC7 until recently, and he also served as a member of NSAIs Information and Communications Technology Standards Consultative Committee).

Roy was a nationally recognised expert in teaching and learning in Computing at third level, having published extensively on this aspect of his work and he contributed to aspects of the activities of QQI the National  Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning as well as acting as external examiner for other institutions. He championed innovations in industry-informed programme development and in online delivery of masters level degrees, in partnership with Technology Ireland.

The annual Rory O’Connor International Award for Research Excellence was announced at EuroSPI 2019. This award is supported by the organisers of the EuroSPI conference series, ISCN, by the American Society for Quality (ASQ), and by Lero, the Irish Software Research Centre.

We remember Rory for his intellect, his energy, his contribution to the world of Software Engineering and to DCU. We will miss a man who put students at the centre of his work, illustrated collegiality daily and was a dear friend.