New professor of computing

  • Hossein Sarrafzadeh

Unitec’s newest professor, Dr Hossein Sarrafzadeh, gave his inaugural speech recently, talking about the future of computing and how he intends to keep Unitec at the forefront of computing education.

The inaugural professorial address by Unitec’s Computing Professor Hossein Sarrafzadeh was held recently to a captive audience of well-wishers, including collaboration partners and colleagues from other tertiary institutions, and students who he supervised and taught in his career.

Sarrafzadeh, who has a PhD in Computing and over 20 years’ experience in academia and industry, is internationally known for his work in the areas of computational intelligence, adaptive user interfaces, software engineering and machine translation. His research projects have included developing one of the world’s first real-time facial expression and gesture recognition systems, as well as a vision-based targeted advertising system which has been patented in New Zealand and internationally.

The well-regarded Computing Head of Department talked about the impact of emerging technologies and the applications of computational intelligence on education, including computer vision, gesture-based interfaces, games, intelligent and affective tutoring systems, life-like agents and natural language processing.

He has completed research with teams at Unitec, Massey University and Auckland University on projects like the world’s first affective educational system ‘Eve’, educational games, ‘Dr Eve’, machine vision and facial expression and gesture recognition, and machine translation technologies that promise to revolutionize practices in online education in the coming years.

Sarrafzadeh has been instrumental in the opening of New Zealand’s first Cyber Security Research Centre at Unitec in association with the National Institute of Information and Communications Technology (NICT), Japan’s main research organisation. The launch of the Delivery Centre on campus in association with IBM and Concentrix has also been important for the computing department under Sarrafzadeh’s leadership.

Sarrafzadeh has served on the editorial boards of journals, programme and organising committees of numerous international conferences, and is also a popular invited speaker at international conferences and symposiums. He has supervised over 40 Masters and Doctoral theses and examined a number of PhD theses. His research has attracted research funding and produced over 140 publications. Sarrafzadeh was also highly rated in the recent PBRF round.

As a professor, he says he will continue to strengthen the research capability of the department. He intends to focus on attracting external funding, close alliances with the relevant industry sectors, creation of areas of excellence in areas of need to the industry and development of the curriculum to address the ever-changing needs of the industry with agility. A priority for Sarrafzadeh in his role as a professor is international collaboration and increased level of inter-departmental and inter-faculty collaboration.

He aspires to help his team become the best applied computing department in the country.