Dr. Kessentini is an internationally recognized leader in Software Refactoring, Intelligent Software Engineering and AI Engineering with research interest in software engineering, artificial intelligence, big data analytics systems, mobile cloud and edge computing, cybersecurity and beyond. In these areas, he has over 170 papers with over 5,036 citations and an h-index of 45 along with 14 licensed inventions to Fortune 500 companies related to intelligent software bots and 4 patents.
He is a Fellow of IEEE and the recipient of many distinguished awards and honors including the 2022 Oakland University Researcher of the Year Award, the 2022 Oakland University Most Active Researcher Award, the 2019 National Award for Best Tunisian Researcher living abroad, the 2018 President of Tunisia Distinguished Researcher Award, the 2019 University of Michigan Dearborn Distinguished Research Award, the 2018 University of Michigan Invention of the Year (Intelligent Software Refactoring bot), the IEEE 10-Year Most Influential Paper Award in Program Comprehension (2011-2021); and over 5 Best Paper Awards.
He has also been a dedicated teacher committed to excellence in teaching and scholarship. He received 2018 University of Michigan Dearborn Distinguished Digital Education Award and the 2016 University of Michigan Dearborn Distinguished Teaching Award (2016) (Highest university-wide teaching awards and only one recipient/year is honored for his/her contributions). He served as consultants for different leading software organizations. He has served on the editorial board of many premier journals including IEEE Transactions on Software Engineering, IEEE Transactions on emerging topics in computational intelligence, ACM Transactions on Software Engineering and Methodology and beyond. He has also been involved in leading many flagship international research conferences.
From 2013 to 2021, he was a faculty member at the University of Michigan-Dearborn. While at UM-Dearborn, he has held many positions, including the director, CSI Rackham PhD program, founding director of the AI and Data Science Master programs and the director of the Software Engineering Master program. He has also served as the founding director of the Dearborn Artificial Intelligence Research Center (DAIR). DAIR was funded by 15+ companies after leading fundraising activities ($200K+). The Dearborn Artificial Intelligence Research (DAIR) Center was created to advance research in core AI and its applications and become a hub for promoting large-scale research, in collaboration with AI academics, practitioners, and business leaders. In a short period of time, the center generated $1.5M+ in research funding and established the MS in AI (the first master degree in AI at the state of Michigan) with 40+ students enrolled from the first term.
Since 2022, he has been with the Oakland University (OU) where he is serving as chair and professor at the department of Computer Science and Engineering and also director of the OU AI Interdisciplinary Research and Education Initiatives. He is also serving as the founding director of the NSF IUCRC Center on Pervasive AI (funded by NSF and 20+ industry members: $1.5M+) and the founding director of the Department of Energy Center on Cybersecurity for Energy Infrastructure (funded by the Department of Energy to enable training and research opportunities for energy companies located in Michigan in collaboration with Automation Alley: $2M+). In a short period of time, he led the CSE department in successfully transforming its research funding of federal agencies from $0.5M to over $6.5M in just one year by focusing on diverse large-scale research projects including establishing 2 externally funded research centers and research development pipeline including brainstorming, forming teams, peer-reviews and beyond. Based on those efforts, he received the two university wide awards, the OU Researcher of the Year and the Most Active Research Award.
Under his leadership, the department experienced significant increase in enrollment by 13% (10% at the undergraduate level and 30% at the graduate level) after over 2 years of enrollment decline. The efforts included expanding online education for all graduate courses, hiring international students (established 8+ international agreements with high-quality overseas universities), extensive outreach and hiring events including visits to industry partners, modernizing the website of the department/marketing materials, restructured the post-bacc programs and beyond. He led the efforts to propose, in just one year, 4 new BS programs (AI, Data Science, Cybersecurity and Software Engineering), 2 new MS programs (AI, and Data Science Engineering), 11 stackable certificates, 1 online non-credits certificate on algorithms and programming and beyond. He also led the efforts to establish a strong advisory board composed by the executives of local and national companies, State of Michigan, MEDC, US Army and beyond including the creation of co-badging system with IBM to validate credentials in OU courses related to AI. He also led initiatives to create a Center of Teaching Excellence in CSE, the CSE research seminar series, and also restructured the PhD program to focus on attracting high quality candidates and switch towards a scholarships guaranteed model. To improve the visibility of the department and university, he led the organization of prestigious international conferences ASE2022 and MODELS2025.
Dr. Kessentini received the BS and MS degrees with distinction in Computer Science from University of Tunis, respectively in 2006 and 2008. He received the PhD degree in Computer Science from University of Montreal and the University of Montreal Best PhD Thesis Award, in 2012.