Getting to know you – Joe Dumas, UC Foundation Professor
Computer Science and Engineering
Joe is in his 28th year as a faculty member at UTC. He started in August of 1993. Born and raised in Mobile, Alabama, he’s also lived in Mississippi (Hattiesburg and Starkville while in school at USM and MSU), Dallas, TX, and Orlando, FL (while working on his Ph.D. at the University of Central Florida). Since arriving at UTC, Signal Mountain has been his home.
Joe ran his first marathon in November of 2010. He has completed 63 races of marathon distance or longer. He typically completes 6-8 per year. We caught up to Joe in between marathons.
Tell us about your family
I live in Signal Mountain with my wife, Chereé. Our two boys are grown and have families of their own. FYI, spoiling grandkids and then sending them back to their parents is way more fun than raising children full-time!
What is your favorite thing about your career?
Getting to work with students who are eager to learn. I think working with young people helps keep me young (on the inside, at least).
What is your favorite game or sport to watch and play?
I enjoy watching football and baseball. My favorite participatory sports are downhill skiing and tennis, as well as distance running. I hope to complete at least 100 lifetime marathons and, eventually, at least one in every U.S. state. The most amazing place I have run was the Big Sur Marathon in California. It starts in a redwood forest and then you get miles of scenic vistas along the Pacific coast, including the iconic Bixby Creek Bridge at the halfway point. They also have a guy in full tux and tails playing the piano to entertain the runners as they go by.
What’s one thing about you that surprises people?
That’s a good question. Perhaps it is my writing ability. There is a stereotype that engineers are not good writers, but I defy that notion every chance I get. Besides conference and journal papers, I have published two editions of a textbook for Computer Architecture. After I retire and have more spare time I would like to write non-fiction articles and possibly even a novel.
What are your hobbies?
Besides skiing, tennis, and running, I also am an experienced home brewer and a certified beer judge. I used to play chess frequently, although I have not been an active player for some years (I hope to get back into playing when I retire from UTC). I am a U.S. Chess Federation certified Senior Tournament Director.
What is your favorite thing to do when you’re not working?
Travel around our amazing country, preferably with my lovely bride. We try to take a significant vacation every summer while I am not teaching classes. The pandemic denied us that opportunity last year, so we’re really looking forward to resuming summer travels in 2021!
What’s the most interesting thing you’ve worked on in the past?
Some years ago I was able to participate in NASA’s Summer Faculty Fellowship program and worked in a virtual reality lab at Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville. We did some interesting work in simulation and I got to play with some really cool “toys.”
What is your proudest accomplishment?
The creation of the Computer Engineering program at UTC. My Ph.D. is in Computer Engineering and from the time I came to UTC, I thought we should have an undergraduate program in that area. We developed a concentration in computer engineering under, first, the B.S. Computer Science program and then as part of the B.S.E. program in general engineering, but it wasn’t until 2018 that we received approval from THEC to offer Computer Engineering as its own separate degree program awarding the B.S.Cp.E. We then had a successful initial accreditation visit from ABET in 2019. I’m very happy we were able to get this done while I was here and I hope the program will live on as my legacy within CECS after I retire.
For what are you most grateful today?
My health, and my family and friends.
What’s the most daring thing you’ve ever done?
The most obvious answer would be skiing double-black-diamond slopes, but actually I’d say completing two sprint-distance triathlons. Anyone (including myself) who knows how inept I am at swimming is amazed I didn’t drown either time. When I crawled out of the water alive the second time I swore I’d never do it again.
What is one of your favorite restaurants in the Chattanooga area?
Chereé and I have been regular patrons of Big River Grille downtown ever since we moved to this area. We also enjoy going to Food Works, State of Confusion, Parkway Pourhouse, and Bela Lisboa (Portuguese restaurant on the Northshore). Sadly, my go-to spot on Saturday mornings after long training runs, The Blue Plate, just closed its doors.
What are some of the apps you use most often on your phone or apps that you’ve discovered are pretty neat?
I probably have many of the same apps as most people, except for the ones that pertain directly to my hobbies. I have a couple of apps that contain the sensory guidelines for virtually every style of beer imaginable. I have Garmin Connect and MapMyRun that I use to track my fitness stats. Perhaps my favorite app is called Ski Tracks. It tracks time on the slopes, horizontal and vertical distance covered, and (somewhat dangerously, because it tempts me to go faster) top speed achieved. My personal best is 67 mph. Editor’s Note: At the time of this interview, Joe has not broken anything skiing and let’s keep it that way!
Thank you, Joe, for not only what you’ve accomplished here in the College, but also for your continued passion and dedication to the success of our students. And just for the record, average speed for downhill skiing:
• Most recreational skiers: 10-20mph
• Downhill racers: 40-60mph
• Olympians: 75-95
• Joe’s personal best: almost Olympian!