Carnegie Mellon University
October 03, 2014

Mary Shaw Will Receive National Medal of Technology and Innovation

Highest U.S. Honor for Technological Progress Goes to Software Engineering Pioneer

By Byron Spice

Mary Shaw Will Receive National Medal of Technology and Innovation

President Barack Obama announced today that he has selected Mary Shaw, the Alan J. Perlis University Professor of Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon University, as a recipient of the National Medal of Technology and Innovation, the nation’s highest honor for achievement in the field of technology, innovation and invention.

Shaw, a computer science faculty member since 1971, is a leader in software engineering research whose work on software architecture — the large-scale structure of software systems — helped establish it as a recognized discipline. Selecting an appropriate architecture is now recognized as a critical step in the engineering of complex software systems for everything from the anti-lock braking systems in cars to the international banking system.

She also is an educational innovator who has developed computer science curricula from the introductory to the doctoral level, including graduate programs targeted at software professionals.

“Building the reliable software systems that are the bedrock of commerce and communication today would not be possible without the engineering principles for large-scale software architecture pioneered by Mary and her colleagues at Carnegie Mellon,” said Subra Suresh, Carnegie Mellon president.

“Her hard work as a software engineer and educator has made CMU a leader in the field. This national recognition for her contributions to technology and society is richly deserved and all of us at CMU join in congratulating her,” he added.

Shaw was one of eight recipients of the National Medal of Technology and Innovation named today, along with 10 new recipients of the National Medal of Science. They will receive their medals at a White House ceremony later this year.

“These scholars and innovators have expanded our understanding of the world, made invaluable contributions to their fields, and helped improve countless lives,” President Obama said. “Our nation has been enriched by their achievements, and by all the scientists and technologists across America dedicated to discovery, inquiry, and invention.”

The medal is awarded annually to individuals, teams, companies or divisions of companies for their outstanding contributions to America’s economic, environmental and social well-being. It recognizes those who have made lasting contributions to America's competitiveness, standard of living, and quality of life through technological innovation, and those who have made substantial contributions to strengthening the nation's technological workforce.

Previous winners with CMU ties include Charles Geschke, the co-founder of Adobe Systems and a 1973 Ph.D. graduate in computer science; the late Watts Humphrey, a fellow of CMU’s Software Engineering Institute; the late alumna Stephanie Kwolek, the inventor of Kevlar who earned her bachelor’s degree in chemistry in 1946; and Gordon Bell, a renowned computer designer at Digital Equipment Corp. and Microsoft and a former computer science faculty member.

Shaw was one of Carnegie Mellon’s earliest Ph.D. graduates in computer science when she received her degree in 1972. “I had the pleasure of being a CMU faculty member when Mary got her Ph.D.,” Bell said. “Throughout her career, from her first program, Mary has been passionate about programming, understanding programs as complex engineered artifacts and software engineering.  This medal is the best acknowledgment of her exceptional career in understanding software and the training of software engineers.”

“I am delighted to learn that Mary is receiving the National Medal of Technology and Innovation,” said Geschke, who was a graduate student at CMU at the same time as Shaw. “This recognition is so well-deserved for both her innovative research and her long-standing commitment to the educations of computer scientists and engineers.”

Shaw is a faculty member in the Institute for Software Research, theComputer Science Department and the Human-Computer Interaction Institute.  During her tenure, she has served as chief scientist of Carnegie Mellon’s Software Engineering Institute and as associate dean for professional education. 

“CMU and the city of Pittsburgh are so lucky to have had Mary living and working here over the years,” said Andrew W. Moore, dean of the School of Computer Science. “The discipline of computer science on campus and around the world grew through her; her influence is exerted every day through the thousands of influential leaders in the software industry who have been trained here.”

She is a co-recipient, with CMU colleague David Garlan, of the 2011 Outstanding Research Award from the Association for Computing Machinery’s (ACM) Special Interest Group on Software Engineering for contributions to software architecture. She was the first recipient of the Distinguished Educator Award presented by the IEEE Computer Society’s Technical Council on Software Engineering, and the first recipient of the Conference on Software Engineering Education and Training’s Nancy Mead Award for Excellence in Software Engineering Education.

Shaw is a fellow of the ACM, the IEEE and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. She is a past member of the National Research Council’s Computer Science and Telecommunications Board and the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency’s Information Science and Technology Board.