History

zyBooks was started in 2012 by Smita Bakshi and Frank Vahid. Frank is a Computer Science and Engineering professor at the University of California, Riverside, and Smita, prior to her 10 years in the high-tech industry, was a UC Davis Electrical Computer Engineering professor. We started zyBooks to help college STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) students graduate.

More than half of STEM students don’t achieve their STEM degrees, and many students are tripped up by their early STEM classes. Part of the problem is the huge mismatch between students and traditional (and increasingly expensive and bloated) textbooks, forcing instructors to teach with one hand tied behind their back. Meanwhile, the real power of the web for learning—interactivity—has barely been tapped.

So, we started creating zyBooks—STEM material native for the web—using “less text, more action.” zyBooks have minimal text, and instead consist of question sets, animations, interactive tools, and embedded homework, so students can learn by doing, which is long known to be more effective. We developed a platform to author, deliver, and continually support and improve zyBooks, vowing to always do right by the student and instructor. We keep prices as low as possible, provide the best support we can, and make the zyBook platform easy to use for students and instructors. Starting with just a handful of universities in 2012, our computer science, engineering, math, and statistics zyBooks have been used by over 200,000 students at more than 400 colleges and universities and a few dozen high schools.

zyBooks are collaboratively authored by talented teams of professors, content developers and software engineers. Click here to learn more about our authors.

Team

Smita Bakshi, CEO/Co-founder (Ph.D. Computer Science, UC Irvine / MBA, Harvard) Smita was a professor at UC Davis and also worked for a number of Silicon Valley high-tech companies across software development, product management, business development and strategy, before co-founding zyBooks and becoming its CEO in 2012.

Frank Vahid, CTO/Co-founder (Ph.D. Computer Science, UC Irvine) A UC Riverside CSE professor, Frank is an active researcher, and has also written several popular textbooks with major publishers and received many teaching awards, before co-founding zyBooks in 2012. He produced zyBooks' first materials and currently co-leads all authoring.


Claudia Amendt, Director of Human Resources (B.A. Communication Studies, San Jose State University) Claudia has a diverse background in Human Resources working for large and start-up companies, including BMC Software, Bay Microsystems, and GlassPoint Solar. She is a Certified Professional Co-Active Coach, trained by the Coaches Training Institute.

Kathleen Hayes, VP of Institutional Sales (MA English, University of San Francisco) Kathleen Hayes is a thirty-year sales veteran in the technology industry. She specializes in developing new markets for start-up companies and building sales teams focused on success. She joined zyBooks to fuel their growth and provide strategic direction.

Roman Lysecky, Authoring Co-Lead (Ph.D. Computer Science, UC Riverside) A Univ. of Arizona ECE professor, Roman is an active researcher, has a popular textbook with a major publisher, and has won various student awards. He produced several of zyBooks' materials and currently co-leads all authoring.

Susan Lysecky, Director of Content (Ph.D. Computer Science, UC Riverside) Susan was a professor at the University of Arizona where she taught a variety of computer engineering courses. She was also an active research and published numerous research papers relating to developing and deploying engineering education technologies and curricula targeted towards resource-constrained middle schools.

Kallee Noel, Director of Finance (B.A. Spanish, Santa Clara University) Kallee has over 15 years of proven talent for leading innovative, service-driven companies from startup through growth stages of finance, accounting, and administrative operations. Kallee was a key contributor at HotChalk, a pioneer in online education. She is skilled at establishing infrastructure to drive and scale back-end processes and business functions.

Alex von Rosenberg, Sr. VP of Sales & Marketing (B.S. Economics, Texas A&M / MBA, Carnegie Mellon) Alex brings 20 years of experience in college textbook publishing, digital media, e-learning, and sales & marketing to the zyBooks team. He has worked for a variety of start-up companies to enhance their growth.

Scott Sirowy, Director of Engineering (Ph.D. Computer Science, UC Riverside) Scott has worked for a variety of different high-tech companies, including Freescale, Microsoft, and ESRI, and currently heads the engineering team and serves as zyBooks' intergalactic liaison. He also teaches UCR computer science courses now and then.