Senior Director Steve Polyak leads the Research Innovation Development group at ACTNext. He earned his PhD in Artificial Intelligence at The University of Edinburgh, Scotland, a MS in Computer Science from DePaul University in Chicago, and a BS in Psychology at the University of Iowa. Steve is involved in conceiving, designing and conducting new research studies on the next generation of learning and assessment systems (LAS). With a breadth of technical knowledge, he builds prototypes that seamlessly blend mobile, web, data science, artificial intelligence and machine learning solutions aligned with the research studies.

Prior to his employment at ACT, Steve was a Principal Architect at Pearson Educational Measurement in Iowa City for over 10 years. During this time he worked on many critical projects including the flexible ePen scoring system, the development of a Unified System Strategy through the conceptualization/deployment of PearsonAccess and the establishment of an enterprise architecture team that worked on solidifying the architecture for the next generation of PearsonAccess Next. Steve also spent several years in Chicago as a director at Encyclopaedia Britannica helping to build technologies to bring the encyclopedia content to the web and in technology consulting for Andersen Consulting/Accenture and Computer Sciences Corp (CSC). During his PhD he worked with members of the Artificial Intelligence Application Institute (AIAI) at the University of Edinburgh and was a research member with the Software Systems and Processes Group (SSP).

Steve has authored a book chapter in “Systems Modeling for Business Process Improvement” (Artech House) and has been published in peer reviewed journals such as the Knowledge Engineering Review (Cambridge University Press). He has been a paper referee for international journals and workshops: IEEE Expert Intelligent Systems, Knowledge and Information Systems (KAIS), SMBPI, Encyclopedia of Cognitive Science (MIT Press). Steve was a Primary Investigator for the United States Department of Commerce project, “Scenario Development for Shared Process Models” and joint PI on the United States National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Project for the Process Specification Language Programme. Steve was also recipient of the Augmentation Award for Science and Engineering Research Training (AASERT) from the Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AFOSR).

His current interests include artificial intelligence, machine learning, data and learning sciences and mobile/web software development. He has earned several certifications across various technologies including the Coursera Machine Learning specialization from the University of Washington and he is currently earning a further specialization in Coursera’s Data Science at Scale specialization, also from the University of Washington.


Contact: Steve.Polyak (at)