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Boehm Plaque

Industry affiliates honor software engineer Barry Boehm with a conference room — and a plaque — for his contributions to the field

October 28, 2004 —

In a surprise ceremony, Barry W. Boehm, professor of software engineering and director of the Viterbi School Center for Software Engineering, was honored for his many accomplishments in the field on Oct. 26 with a newly named conference room bearing his name. Donations for the naming came from more than a dozen individual and corporate admirers. 

Boehm, left, chats with Yanis Yortsos, academic affairs dean in the Viterbi School, after the presentation.

“SAL 322 will be known from now on as the Barry Boehm Conference Room,” said Yanis Yortsos, senior associate dean for academic affairs in the USC Viterbi School, at a ribbon-cutting ceremony during the 19th international Forum on Constructive Cost Modeling (COCOMO) and Software Cost Modeling on the USC campus.

“I don’t know of anyone with a more complete set of arenas in which they were a leader,” Yortsos said.  “Industry at TRW and Rand…government at DARPA…and academia at, we’re proud to say, the computer science department of the Viterbi School of Engineering.”

A longtime faculty member and highly regarded computer scientist, Boehm is best known for his work in value-based software engineering. He created a method for integrating a software system’s process models, product models, property models and success models, called “model-based system architecting and software engineering,” also known as M-BASE. 

He invented many value-based software methods, such as the “constructive cost model” (COCOMO), the “spiral model,” “Theory W,” a win-win approach to software management, and “requirements determination,” which formed the foundations for software risk management and software quality factor analysis.

Boehm also advanced two software engineering environments: the TRW software productivity system and the “quantum leap” environment.  (TRW was acquired by Northrop Grumman in 2002.)

“He is an incredibly brilliant man,” said Betsy Clark, a senior consultant at Software Metrics, Inc., in Haymarket, Virginia.  “As an academic person, I really admire how he has reached out to industry to get them involved…it makes everything we [computer engineers] do that much more relevant.”

Boehm founded USC’s Center for Software Engineering in 1993 to provide an environment for research and teaching in the areas of large-scale software design and development processes. The new Center also began to develop generic and domain specific software architectures, software engineering tools and environments, cooperative system designs and software engineering economics.
Rick Selby, left, head of software products at Northrop Grumman Space Technology, congratulates Boehm on his new conference room and plaque.

“I’d call him one of the founding fathers of software engineering economics,” said Rick Selby, chief software manager at Northrop Grumman Space Technology, which is one of the Center’s industry affiliates.  “He has had deep ideas with lasting significance.”

Ellis Horowitz, deputy chairman of USC’s computer science department, characterized Boehm as “the first to apply economic analysis to the software development process,” and called him “a leader in teaching software engineering.”

Donors contributing to the Barry Boehm Conference Room plaque included more than a dozen organizations and individuals.  Leadership support was provided by Northrop Grumman and Reifer Consultants, while contributing support was provided by Fraunhofer Center Maryland, Galorath, Incorporated, the International Society of Parametric Analysts, Jo Ann Lane, Price Systems, LLC, Richard D. Stutzke, Software Metrics, Inc., Absolute Software Co., Inc., Lockheed Martin, Master Systems, Inc., Sherry and Bill Stukes, and Ricardo and Briana Valerdi.
The conference room unveiling took Boehm by surprise, despite the fact that he spent much of the morning working in his nearby office and walking past it. 

“I had no idea people were trying to distract me from going past the room,” he said, “so it was certainly a surprise, a wonderful surprise.”

The third-floor suite was chosen because Boehm uses it, probably more frequently than anyone else, for conferences, seminars, annual workshops, collaborative projects and demonstrations.  

“We wanted the room to be a living legacy,” said Don Reifer, president of Reifer Consulting, after the ceremony.  “The idea was to give Barry some space to continue his research and a sense of permanency.”

--Diane Ainsworth