Logo: University of Southern California

Raytheon Engineer Wins USC Software Award

Gary D. Thomas Honored for Basic Research on Development Modeling
Eric Mankin
October 03, 2006 — A Texan who made key contributions to the creation of tools now widely used to accurately estimate costs and time required for
Gary D. Thomas: "creativity and experience .. a role model."
software development is the second recipient of the USC Center for Systems and Software Engineering Lifetime Achievement Award.

Gary D. Thomas, an Engineering Fellow at Raytheon Intelligence & Information Systems in Garland, Texas, received the distinction for “continuing seminal contributions to systems and software cost models,” according to the commendation that will be officially presented to him at a CSSE forum later this year.

Work on COCOMO (COnstructive COst Model) began in the early 80s and has continued to the present day, but picked up momentum and then expanded directly because of Thomas’ work.

“Much of the clarity, consistency, and relevance of the model relationships and data definitions in the COCOMO family of estimation models can be traced to Gary Thomas’ contributions, creativity, and experience in applying the models in wide varieties of applications and situations,” said CSSE co-director and USC Viterbi School of Engineering department of computer science professor Barry Boehm, in making the announcement. “He has been a valued role model for many cost estimation researchers and practitioners”

Thomas has been involved with CSSE since 1995 and pioneered the development of COCOMO follow-on systems, including COSYSMO, a systems engineering cost model now widely used by organizations such as Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, and BAE Systems. 

“Thomas’ talent has supported CSSE’s mission of Evolving and Unifying Theories and Practices of Systems and Software Engineering; and whose work has stood the test of time,” said Professor Stan Settles of the USC Viterbi School's Epstein Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering, co-director of CSSE.

For his employer, Thomas developed a tailored version of COCOMO called SECOST, with Raytheon-specific calibration and proprietary features.  A Raytheon collegue, John E. Rieff, Senior Manger of Systems Engineering for Space & Airborne Systems in Dallas, Texas, assessed this project's impact:

“Gary Thomas’ work on SECOST started out as an initiative in the Intelligence and Information Systems business," he said.  "With his influence, that initiative went beyond the boundaries of IIS and impacted the way cost estimation was performed at other Raytheon businesses such as Net-Centric Systems, Space & Airborne Systems, Integrated Defense Systems, and Missile Systems.  It has become the standard for estimating systems engineering cost and has provided a competitive advantage by providing a framework for establishing an estimate in much shorter time.”
Thomas has worked at Raytheon (previously E-Systems) in Garland since 1976 as a software developer, project leader and engineering fellow.

Originally established at USC in 1993 as the Center for Software Engineering, CSSE expanded this year to broaden its system focus. Its suite of software tools, including COCOMO, COSYSMO and others has won international recognition and are now in widespread use.

At its 20th International Forum on COCOMO and Systems/Software Cost Estimation in 2005, the CSSE established the award to recognize a distinguished individual or team who has made unique and lasting contributions to the state of the art, practice, or teaching of systems and software cost estimation throughout their career.

Thomas will receive the award and deliver the CSSE Distinguished Lecture as a keynote address at the 21st International Forum on COCOMO and Systems/Software Cost Estimation on November 8, 2006 in Herndon, Virginia.

Last year’s recipient, the first to get the degree, was the late Dr. Richard D. Stutzke of SAIC in Huntsville, Alabama.