Robert Kessler

In Memoriam
Building 72, Room 222
Phone: 1-801-581-4653


Robert R. Kessler served on the faculty of the University of Utah from 1983 until his passing in 2021.   He was a co-founder of EAE and served as its first director for nine years.  Bob was also a professor in the the School of Computing.  He earned his B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. in 1974, 1977, and 1981 respectively, all from the University of Utah. His early work was centered on the portable implementation of the Lisp programming language and then distributed and parallel implementations of Lisp. In the early 90’s, he founded the Center for Software Science, a state of Utah Center of Excellence, which was a research group working in nearly all aspects of system software for sequential and parallel/distributed computers.  In the late 90’s Professor Kessler served as chairman of the Department of Computer Science (which became the School of Computing in 2000).  At about that same time, his research interests expanded into software engineering and also dabbled in agent technologies.  In 2007 he founded and ran the Entertainment Arts and Engineering (EAE) program as an undergraduate games emphasis, then in 2010 it became an official program with its own master’s degree.  In 2017 EAE added a BS in Games degree. Over the years, the program has been consistently ranked in the top 5 best video game design programs in the world and achieved number 1 three times.

Bob was the author of two books, over 75 journal and conference publications, received over $16M in external funding. He founded two startup companies and served on several corporate boards.  He was an award-winning teacher having received the College of Engineering Outstanding Teaching Award in 2000, the University of Utah’s highest teaching honor, the Distinguished Teaching Award in 2001, and most recently the IEEE Computer Society’s Computer Science and Engineering Undergraduate Teaching Award in 2019.

Memorials for Bob can be found on the EAE website as well as on the U’s College of Engineering web pages.

  • Software Engineering
  • Games for Health

  • Ph.D., Computer Science, University of Utah, 1981
  • M.S., Computer Science, University of Utah, 1977
  • B.S., Computer Science, University of Utah, 1974

  • Recipient, IEEE Computer Society Computer Science and Engineering Undergraduate Teaching Award, 2019
  • Recipient of the University Distinguished Teaching Award, 2001.
  • Recipient of the College of Engineering Outstanding Teaching Award, 2000.

game Credits
  • Executive Producer as Faculty Advisor of nearly 100 student-produced video games



  1. Laurie Williams and Robert Kessler, “Pair Programming Illuminated,” Addison Wesley, July 2002, 265 pages
  2. Robert Kessler, “LISP, Objects, and Symbolic Programming,” Scott, Foresman/Little, Brown, January 1988, 656 pages.


  1. “Patient-Empowerment Interactive Technologies”  Transl. Med. 4, 152ps16 (2012) (C. S. Bruggers, R. A. Altizer, R. R. Kessler, C. B. Caldwell, K. Coppersmith, L. Warner, B. Davies, W. Paterson, J. Wilcken, T. A. D’Ambrosio, M. L. German, G. R. Hanson, L. A. Gershan, J. R. Korenberg, G. Bulaj)
  2. “Strengthening the Case for Pair-Programming”, IEEE Software, July/August 2000, (L. Williams, R. Kessler, W. Cunningham, and R. Jeffries). Note – chosen as one of the top 30 papers out of over 1000 papers submitted to IEEE Software over the past 25 years. This was described in the Jan/Feb 2009 issue of IEEE Software


  1. “The Intersection of Video Games and Patient Empowerment: case study of a real world application”, Interactive Entertainment 2013 (September 2013) (C. Caldwell; C. Bruggers; R. Altizer; T. D’Ambrosio; R. Kessler; B. Christiansen)
  2. “When the games industry and academia collide: How we impact each other” 2012 IEEE International Games Innovation Conference (September 2012), pg. 1-4  (C. Caldwell; R. Kessler; R. Altizer; M. Van Langefeld) [Winner – Best Paper in Education Track]
  3. “Digital Visualization Tools Improve Teaching 3D Character Modeling,” SIGCSE 2010 (M. van Langeveld and R. Kessler)
  4. “Educational Impact of Digital Visualization and Auditing Tools On a Digital Character Production Course,” ICFDG 2009 (M. van Langeveld and R. Kessler)
  5. “Entertainment Arts and Engineering or How to Fast Track A New Interdisciplinary Program),” SIGCSE 2009 (R. Kessler, M. van Langeveld, and R. Altizer).


  1. Disease Therapy Game Technology (#9,747,42). Status: Published. Inventors: GrzegorzWlodzimierzBulaj,Salt LakeCity,UT(US);CarolS. Bruggers,SaltLakeCity,UT(US); RogerAlanAltizer,SaltLakeCity,UT (56) ReferencesCited U.S.PATENTDOCUMENTS (US);RobertR.Kessler,SaltLake City,UT (US);Craig Bernreuter Caldwell,SaltLakeCity,UT (US); WadeRayPaterson,Austin,TX(US); KurtJosephCoppersmith,WestPoint, UT (US);LauraMaeWarner,Salt LakeCity,UT(US);Brandon H. Davies,North SaltLake,UT (US). File date 12/26/2016; Issue date 08/29/2017. Assignee: University of Utah Research Foundation, Salt Lake City,UT (US). Country: USA.
  2. Empowering Patients During Disease Therapy Using An Interactive Video Game That Links Exercise and Positive Visualization (#9,569,562). Status: Issued. Type: Parent/Utility. Inventors: Grzegorz Bulaj, Carol S. Bruggers, Roger A. Altizer, Robert Kessler, Craig Caldwell, Wade R. Patterson, Kurt J. Coppersmith, Laura M. Warner, Brandon Davies. File date 05/18/2012; Issue date 02/14/2017. Assignee: The University of Utah. Country: United States.