Thursday, February 4, 2010

CMU presentation

Tuesday Feb 2 I had a wonderful afternoon at Carnegie Mellon West Coast Campus, talking mostly about the HP book, but also reminiscing with some of the faculty (Steve Rosenberg, Ted Selker, Stuart Evans) about how design criteria have changed, along with the companies.

A surprise for me -- shouldn't have been, but was -- is how unaware most of the students were with the heritage of their own school. Herb Simon and Allan Newell were 'unknowns' to the entire room, and granted, it was 55 years ago that they started the AI program at Carnegie Tech (which was a name they'd not heard either). SEI -- the Software Engineering Institute -- which is celebrating its 25th anniversary this month -- was likewise a "zero" for the students. For me, SEI was a 'zero' -- they persisted in teaching process to the near-total exclusion of tools until you get to Level 4, thereby setting back software engineering practice a full ten to fifteen years, but ensuring their own consulting fees for that entire period.

Code coverage tools, which they disdain to this day, likely could have uncovered the issues bedeviling Toyota's "fly-by-wire" gas pedal -- such tools adopted twenty years ago would have altered the safety of airliners, automobiles, and most every 'real-time' software environment in the meantime. Instead, we all fly on, drive on, or ride in elevators, etc. "the lowest bidder"

Good questions at the end, especially re distinctions between invention and innovation. It is easy to think they should 'know' some of the things I find important; there is no question that they know a host of things that ARE important that I will never learn -- the kids today are smart, Smart, SMART, and it is such a privilege to get to talk with them on occasion.

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