Robert Heinlein once laid out an incredibly varied list of abilities one should possess, including “chang[ing] a diaper, plan[ning] an invasion, butcher[ing] a hog, conn[ing] a ship, design[ing] a building” and many more. “Specialization,” he said, “is for insects.” Although it is not clear whether Felician College’s Dr. Alberto LaCava could work his way through Heinlein’s particular and prescriptive laundry list of abilities, there is no question that his wide range of knowledge and ability makes him a modern-day embodiment of the Renaissance man.
Because of the talent, impressive training credentials, and vision Dr. LaCava brings to his role at Felician College as a professor of computer information systems, it may be surprising to some that his Ph.D., earned at The University of London’s Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine, is actually in chemical engineering. It was his research in chemical engineering that led him to push the envelope in computer modeling and simulation and helped him to develop his expertise in computer information systems. It has also earned him what he quantifies as “twenty or thirty” patents. Indeed, he continues to pursue research opportunities in chemical engineering that place him in the vanguard technological advancements.
Dr. LaCava joined Felician’s Department of Computer Science as a Full Professor in 2002. As department chair from 2003 to 2006, he directed the development of four degree programs, including a bachelor’s degree and minor in computer information systems, and a fast-track degree program for adult undergraduate students.
Felician’s community of students and the flexibility to create new programs are what Dr. LaCava identifies as his favorite aspects of the College. He can be found teaching up to six courses during any given semester, splitting his teaching load about evenly between courses offered to traditional undergraduates and courses for adult undergrads. His current favorite courses to teach are in the high-demand field of Information Assurance and Security. However, he also offers a course in nursing informatics for undergraduate nursing students, and a graduate course in data and healthcare for students in the Master of Science in Nursing Executive Track.
In the area of computer information systems, Dr. LaCava has completed training at Purdue University, under a program of with the National Security Agency to become certified in Information Assurance Graduate Education, and is certified as an Administrator, Professional, Security Specialist, and Academy Certified Instructor through the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). He is passionate about Felician’s offerings in Information Assurance and Security, noting that students emerge from the program “with the experience and entrepreneurial spirit needed to maintain a position in front of threats, protecting data and identifying breaches of security within corporations or government agencies.”
Dr. LaCava is the recipient of numerous prizes and awards in research and development, innovation, and technology. His extensive publications explore areas including computer modeling and simulation, artificial intelligence applications, and chemical engineering. He is currently working with a team from Lehigh University researching a method for carbon dioxide capture, as well as consulting for AMCS, a New Jersey company working on development of an ethanol synthesis technique.
Despite the long list of accolades and accomplishments Dr. LaCava has built, he is unfailingly approachable and disarmingly humble. His work on technologies such as carbon dioxide capture might conceivably play a huge role in climate preservation in the future. Yet, when asked for this article whether he ever feels like he might just be saving the world, this man of extensive and various accomplishment turned his eyes down with a slightly embarrassed smile and said, “Well, you know, maybe just a little bit, but one must have humility.”