National Medal Of Technology Winner And Sei Fellow Watts Humphrey, 1927 - 2010

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29th October 2010, 10:36am - Views: 722

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National Medal of Technology Winner and SEI Fellow Watts Humphrey, 1927 - 2010

PITTSBURGH, Oct. 29 /PRNewswire-AsiaNet/ --

    Watts Humphrey, founder of the Software Process Program at the Carnegie

Mellon Software Engineering Institute (SEI) and recipient of the National

Medal of Technology, died Thursday at his home in Sarasota, Florida. He was


    (Photo: )

    "Watts Humphrey was one of the icons of software engineering-one of a

handful of engineers like Barry Boehm, Fred Brooks, and Vic Basili who have

helped define this young field," said SEI director and CEO Dr. Paul Nielsen.

"Watts brought engineering to software engineering. His work has had

immeasurable impact on the global software community, tirelessly urging the

community to emphasize quality, measurement, and performance."

    Known as the "Father of Software Quality" Humphrey dedicated the majority

of his career to addressing problems in software development including

schedule delays, cost increases, performance problems, and defects. Humphrey

joined the SEI in 1986, after making what he described as an "outrageous

commitment to change the world of software engineering."

    "Changing the world of anything is an outrageous personal commitment,"

Humphrey said in an interview in early 2010, discussing his decision to come

to the SEI. "I knew I couldn't do it alone, and I wanted to be in an

environment where I could work with folks and do that."

    "As the pioneering innovator behind several important software

development processes, Watts more than met his promise to change the world of

software engineering. His contributions go well beyond methodology and the

many awards and accolades he received. For decades, his work inspired

software engineers and his colleagues and friends worldwide. His warmth,

energy, great spirit and dedication will be missed by all of us at Carnegie

Mellon," said Jared L. Cohon, president of Carnegie Mellon University.

    Born on July 4, 1927, in Battle Creek, Michigan, Humphrey had a difficult

time learning to read as a young child, and failed first grade. His father,

also named Watts, moved the family to New England and enrolled his eldest son

and namesake in a school where he could get one-to-one help with his reading.

Humphrey, who later learned that he had dyslexia, graduated valedictorian of

his high school class. After serving in the United States Navy, Humphrey

earned a bachelor's degree in physics at the University of Chicago. He then

completed a master's degree in physics from the Illinois Institute of

Technology (IIT) and an MBA degree from the University of Chicago.

    He arrived at the SEI after working for nearly three decades at IBM

where, as director of programming and vice-president of technical

development, he supervised 4,000 software professionals spread across 15

laboratories in seven countries.

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    At the SEI, Humphrey established the Software Process Program and led

development of the Software Capability Maturity Model, and introduced the

Software Process Assessment and Software Capability Evaluation methods. These

later became the basis for the development of the Capability Maturity Model

Integration (CMMI), a framework of software engineering best practices that

have been adopted by thousands of organizations across the globe.

    Anita Carleton, director of the SEI's Software Engineering Process

Management (SEPM) Program, said Humphrey's passion for his work influenced

her decision to come to the SEI.

    "He was a wonderful leader and a wonderful man. He set forth an

energizing goal and an inspiring mission that we all wanted to be a part of,"

said Carleton.

    "When Watts began his work, he faced his critics, but never gave up on

his commitment that software development could be more effectively managed by

process," said Larry Druffel, SEI director and CEO from 1986 to 1996. "We all

understood the importance of things like version control, configuration

management, and methodology, but I don't think that anyone knew how to put

that into a transferable form. That's what Watts did for the field of

software engineering. There were enough people out there criticizing his

approach, but he stayed with it, and he made it work."

    After being named the first SEI Fellow-an honor given to individuals who

have made an outstanding commitment to the work of the SEI-Humphrey focused

on the development of the Team Software Process (TSP), an approach that

teaches software engineers the skills they need to make and track plans and

produce high-quality software with zero defects. TSP has been adopted by

leading software organizations across the globe including Adobe, Intuit, and

Oracle. In 2006, Tec de Monterrey, a leading private university in Mexico,

launched a TSP initiative in partnership with the SEI to help Mexico become a

better national provider of IT products and services.

    For his work in software engineering, Humphrey was awarded the 2003

National Medal of Technology which he received from President George W. Bush

in a special ceremony at the White House in 2005. Humphrey is the author of

12 books on software engineering and hundreds of technical reports, journal

articles, and columns. The Watts Humphrey Software Quality Institute in

Chennai, India, is named after him.

    Humphrey met his wife, Barbara, while working for Sylvania in Boston;

they were married in 1954, and have seven children and 11 grandchildren.

    His daughter, Sarah Humphrey, recalled that when she was little, her

father tried to teach all of his children how to sail. During her lesson she

kept refusing to take the tiller from her father.

    "So he jumped off the boat and swam ashore. That was just great. I took

the tiller," she recalled. "He would always say 'Never say I can't. Say I


    To read a story about Humphrey and see samples of his published work and

video clips of him receiving the National Medal of Technology, visit

    About the Carnegie Mellon Software Engineering Institute

    The Software Engineering Institute (SEI) is a federally funded research

and development center sponsored by the U.S. Department of Defense and

operated by Carnegie Mellon University. The SEI helps organizations make

measurable improvements in their software engineering capabilities by

providing technical leadership to advance the practice of software

engineering. For more information, visit the SEI website at

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SOURCE: Carnegie Mellon Software Engineering Institute

    CONTACT: Richard Lynch, Carnegie Mellon Software Engineering Institute,

+1-412-268-4793, Fax +1-412-268-5758,

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