Carnegie Mellon University
April 24, 2017

Shaw Earns University's Highest Education Honor

By Susie Cribbs

Mary Shaw joined the Carnegie Mellon University faculty after she completed her Ph.D. at the university in 1972. Since then, she's designed computer science curricula at all university levels, established software architecture as a recognized discipline, and served as chief scientist of CMU's Software Engineering Institute and associate dean for professional education.

In 2014, she received the National Medal of Technology and Innovation from President Barack Obama — the nation's highest honor for achievement in the field of technology, innovation and invention.

On April 27, she'll accept Carnegie Mellon's highest education honor, the Robert E. Doherty Award for Sustained Contributions to Excellence in Education.

The Doherty Award, named for CMU's third president, is given to a member of the university community who has made substantial and sustained contributions to excellence in education. The award recognizes contributions to educational programs through development and implementation of innovative educational programs; development of widely used curriculum materials, such as textbooks and educational software; and establishment of educational programs that bridge the university with the community.

For Shaw, the A.J. Perlis University Professor of Computer Science in the Institute for Software ResearchComputer Science Department and Human-Computer Interaction Institute, those contributions come in the form of more than four decades of curriculum and education innovation in computer science.

"Mary has made significant contributions at all levels, including Ph.D. programs, professional master's programs, and undergraduate curricula and courses," said William Scherlis, director of the Institute for Software Research. "She has kept a keen focus on the identification and articulation of overall educational goals, on particular mechanisms whereby those goals can be translated into the design of curricula and degree programs, and on engagement with alumni to assess the effectiveness of these ideas. She has published many significant papers related to education in addition to her extensive publications in software engineering research. Her writing is grounded in direct experience in the creation and delivery of new degree programs and courses."

In the mid-1970s, Shaw worked with her colleagues to not only redesign the sophomore data structures course in a way that pioneered today's popular abstraction and formal specification approach, but also spread that technique through an influential textbook. Shaw led the design of the 1985 CMU Curriculum for Undergraduate Computer Science, which presented a forward-looking undergraduate curriculum at a time when most curricula instead focused on current practice. A 1991 restructuring of CMU's Master of Software Engineering program honed in on the field's technical side, and set the stage for Shaw and her colleagues to develop novel courses on software architectures. Creation of these courses helped establish software architecture as its own discipline and changed how software engineering was taught around the world.

Off campus, Shaw has spoken and published extensively on educational issues, including CMU's educational programs, the maturing discipline of software engineering and professional certification. She collaborated on a model curriculum for professional master's programs in software engineering, which was endorsed by three professional societies.

Shaw earned a bachelor's degree from Rice University and a Ph.D. in computer science from Carnegie Mellon. She is a fellow of the Association for Computing Machinery, IEEE and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Her educational contributions have been recognized by the IEEE Computer Society TCSE Distinguished Educator Award, the CSEE&T Nancy Mead Award for Excellence in Software Engineering Education, the George R. Stibitz Computer and Communications Pioneer Award, the ACM SIGSOFT Outstanding Research Award (with David Garlan), and elected IEEE and ACM life fellowship. She recently earned the School of Computer Science's Allen Newell Award for Research Excellence with collaborators David Garlan and Bradley Schmerl for their work in software architecture.

Shaw will accept the Doherty Award at the university's Celebration of Education at 4:30 p.m. on Thursday, April 27, in Rangos 1 and 2, Cohon University Center.

For more information, visit the Celebration of Education website.