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Dennis Ray, Longtime Computer Science Lecturer and Navy veteran, Dies at 80

By Tiffany Whitfield

Dennis Edward Ray, a lecturer in Old Dominion University's Department of Computer Science for more than two decades and a retired Naval officer, died on May 18. He was 80.

Ray made meaningful contributions to ODU undergraduates, graduates, faculty and the science community at large.

"Dennis was a pillar of our undergraduate program for over 22 years," said Ravi Mukkamala, chair of computer science at ODU. "He had the utmost enthusiasm for teaching. He spent most of his time in his office room always helping students or trying to come up with some innovative ways to teach undergrads. He was also involved in our original CS 410/411 course design."

After retiring from the Navy in 1984, Ray accepted a position as lecturer in computer science at ODU. He held that position until 2006.

He helped develop several computer science courses, including C++, Pascal Programming Language and Navigating the Internet. Ray also created computer science courses for middle and high school teachers.

Ray was entrenched in research at ODU. He studied the application and use of computer-based technology in the effective teaching of computer science technology. Also, he was interested in research aspects of artificial Intelligence (AI) for expert systems and robotics. He worked to merge aspects of both of those fields to produce "minimally capable robotic devices for common everyday household use."

"You could see him holding robotic competitions in the hallways of the old Education Building (now Monarch Hall),"Mukkamala said.

He published books and papers about computer science, examining software development and computer productivity, along with evaluating software production technologies. Ray also received grants from AT&T information systems, the National Science Foundation (NSF) and NASA.

Ray gave back to the up-and-coming generation of scientists. He sponsored the Careers in Science and Engineering Young Scholars' Program through an NSF grant. This program was held during the summers of 1988-1992 and again in 1994. He also sponsored a "Miracles" program designed to provide insights into computer science for underprivileged youth in Hampton Roads. In the program, participants were able to work on robotic devices and heard lectures about computer science topics.

Prior to joining ODU, Ray received a Bachelor of Science in computer science from the U.S. Naval Academy. Upon graduation in 1964, he served in the Navy for 20 years as an engineering duty officer.

Ray earned a Master of Science in marine engineering from the U.S. Postgraduate Naval School in Monterey, California, in 1971.

From 1975 to 1977, Ray was a staff officer in the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations (CNO). In the CNO, he was a project manager of the USS Dahlgren project where he designed, developed, and managed this prototype and oversaw financial and maintenance of ADP security systems aboard Navy ships. The success of the ADP system was used as part of the basis for the developments.

From 1977 to 1979, Ray became a repair officer and senior engineer in the U.S. Navy fleets units. He oversaw repairs to ships, from propulsion equipment to digital computer repairs along with anti-submarine warfare and weapons.

He then served as was the operational test director for all U.S. Navy Standard tactical computer systems from 1980 to 1984. Eventually, he became an instructor in software intensive tactical weapons systems. He also designed and planned the operational testing group to evaluate all military systems procurements.

Ray leaves behind his wife Carole Anne Ray; two sons, Timothy A. Ray (Erin) and Christopher T. Ray (Michelle); three brothers, Wayne A. Ray, Michael Ray and Phillip Ray; sister, Linda Conner; and five grandchildren, Kaitlin, Alysha, Thomas, Stephen and Bryce.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation. You may offer condolences at www.smithandwilliamskempsville.com.

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