Skip to main content

Philip Gust

Clinical Instructor - Silicon Valley


Office Location

Silicon Valley Campus

Mailing Address

Northeastern University
ATTN: Philip Gust, 202 WVH
360 Huntington Avenue
Boston, MA 02115


  • MS in Computer Science, University of Arizona
  • BS in Mathematics and Psychology, University of Arizona


Philip Gust is a Clinical Instructor at Northeastern University’s College of Computer and Information Science in the Silicon Valley Campus. Philip has been working with computers for over 40 years. He learned to program while in high school for a science fair project to land an unmanned spacecraft on Mars and return samples to earth. A NASA special award lead to a job during college, working on unmanned spacecrafts that have visited every major planet in the solar system and beyond, including Mariner 10, Viking, and Voyager. He also taught computer science at the University of Arizona and wrote the textbook for one of the courses. Since then, he has worked at a number of companies, from large multinationals, to startups, including several on the founding team, and has developed dozens of software products. His publications include journal and magazine articles, and papers in conference proceedings. He has been active in professional societies for many years, including the ACM and the IEEE where he is a Senior Life member in both. He has served on boards of several commercial companies and non-profits. He is also an international award-winning costume designer and cosplayer, and editor of The Virtual Costumer magazine.

What are the specifics of your educational background?

I have a master’s degree in computer science and I have completed my PhD coursework, with a focus on text processing and document preparation systems. I have an BS in Mathematics with a focus on computability and computational mathematics, and a BS in Psychology with a focus in cognitive and experimental psychology.

What is your research focus in a bit more detail? Is your current research path what you always had in mind for yourself, or has it evolved somewhat? If so, how/why?

My long-term research interest is human-computer interaction (HCI), with an emphasis user interface design and computer-mediated collaboration. I founded the Multi-User Interface group at HP Labs, help design the Xt toolkit, and co-invented the Shared X extension to X Windows. A more recent interest is in long-term preservation and access to born-digital content, including scholarly journals and books. At Stanford University, my work made the contents of LOCKSS digital repositories accessible to library users, and enabled users to make semantic queries across preserved content repositories.

What are the specifics of your industry experience?

As an undergraduate, I worked for NASA on unmanned spacecrafts that visited all the major planets. During graduate school, I taught a number of courses in the new U of A Computer Science department. After graduation, I worked at several Hewlett-Packard product divisions, and started a new user interface research group at HP Labs. Then, after working at several VC and privately funded Silicon Valley startups, I join a applied research group at Stanford University, and finally returned to teaching computer science.

What courses/subjects do you teach?

I teach ALIGN courses at the new Silicon Valley campus of Northeastern University, including CS 5001: Intensive Fundamentals of Computer Science) and CS 5002 (Discrete Math and Data Structures).

What do you enjoy most/find most rewarding about what you teach? Is there anything notable or unique about the kind of students that you teach?

The ALIGN program helps students with no background in computing to pursue an advanced degree in Computer Science. The diversity of students and their backgrounds makes ALIGN classes both interesting and challenging to teach. My own interests are very broad so I really enjoy working with people from such diverse backgrounds. The diversity also means that some students are more prepared than others, so the challenge is ensuring that everyone learns the material and that no-one is left behind. I’ll be experimenting with various techniques like study groups, team learning, and online communities so students can help each other to succeed.

Where did you grow up/spend the most defining years of your childhood/young adulthood?

I was born and spent my early years in Michigan, but our family moved to Arizona when I was young. I fell in love with the Sonora desert and still consider Arizona home. I attended grade school and high school in Phoenix, and then attended the University of Arizona in Tucson.

Where did you study? Any reason in particular behind your choice (a program you were excited about, a city you love, a researcher you wanted to work with)?

I chose to study at the University of Arizona because of my interest in planetary sciences, since they have one of the top-rated Astronomy and Planetary Sciences programs. However, funding for astronomy took a sharp downward turn part way through my degree program, so I decided instead to pursue a career in computer science which was just emerging as a separate discipline. I continue to be interested in planetary sciences and using intelligent robots to explore the solar system and beyond.