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June 1: Software Engineers Honor Nico Habermann With Inaugural Influential Educator Award

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Byron Spice                          
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Software Engineers Honor Nico Habermann
With Inaugural Influential Educator Award

habermannPITTSBURGH—The late A. Nico Habermann, founding dean of Carnegie Mellon University's School of Computer Science, has been honored by the Association for Computing Machinery's Special Interest Group on Software Engineering (SIGSOFT) with its inaugural Influential Educator Award.
    
Habermann was cited "for significant and lasting contributions to the field of software engineering as a teacher and mentor." His widow, Marta Habermann, accepted the award from William Griswold, SIGSOFT chair, at the International Conference on Software Engineering, May 21 in Vancouver. Two of Habermann's children, Frits and Marianne, also attended.
    
"This is the most appropriate award Nico ever received because he was always a teacher," Marta Habermann said. "The nicest thing is that people think of him and remember his contributions even 16 years after his death."
    
"Nico had amazing impact on his profession, the computer science community and our university," said Randal E. Bryant, dean of the School of Computer Science. "He had a great ability to connect with people at both a technical and a personal level.  His impact on software engineering has been profound, not only through his technical contributions, but also in establishing the Software Engineering Institute and in the many students who have followed in his footsteps."
    
Habermann advised 14 Ph.D. recipients at Carnegie Mellon. Counting the Ph.D. students that they subsequently advised, his academic "family tree" now numbers more than 100. At least 90 of them became professors themselves, an unusually large percentage.
    
This was the first year that SIGSOFT presented the Influential Educator Award. The annual award is intended to recognize contributions to education that are vital to the advancement of software engineering, but that too often go unnoticed. Laurie Williams of North Carolina State University also was a recipient of the award this year.
    
Habermann, who died in 1993, was a native of Groningen, The Netherlands. He earned his doctorate in applied mathematics in 1967 from Technological University, Eindhoven, where he was an assistant professor from 1965 to 1968. He came to Carnegie Mellon as a visiting professor in 1968 and joined the faculty in 1969.
    
He was head of the Computer Science Department from 1980 to 1988, when he became dean of the newly formed School of Computer Science. He helped establish the Carnegie Mellon Software Engineering Institute, a federally funded research and development center, and served as its acting director from 1984 to 1985. From 1991 until his death, he was on leave from the university to serve as assistant director for computer and information science and engineering (CISE) at the National Science Foundation.

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Pictured above: Marta Habermann, widow of Nico, accepts the Influential Educator Award plaque while her son Frits (left), SIGSOFT chair William Griswold and daughter Marianne look on.