Professor Rasala pioneered the use of software toolkits to teach computer science concepts in freshman and upper-level curricula. He has developed toolkits in C++, Java, and C#. His most extensive toolkit (written in collaboration with Professor Viera Proulx) is Java Power Tools. The JPT toolkit supports robust input-output; rapid creation of graphical user interfaces; tools for shapes, graphics, transforms, and function plots; and sophisticated tools for software testing. The toolkits greatly simplify programming for students and are structured to provide an exemplary model for software design. At the senior and master’s levels, Professor Rasala is currently doing similar work on creating tools and examples for teaching dynamic web site development.
In collaboration with his faculty colleagues, Professor Rasala has developed computer science curricula; written more than twenty papers; and participated in panel presentations, tutorials, and working groups addressing key issues in computer science education. He has also advocated for early introduction of design concepts in the curriculum.
Professor Rasala developed the model for dual major programs, now common at Northeastern. He has also contributed to College and University-wide curriculum reform efforts.
Prior to joining the College of Computer and Information Science in its founding year (1982), Professor Rasala was a member of the Mathematics faculty and did research on abstract algebra.