The Community for Technology Leaders

Passing the Reins


Pages: pp. 3-5

Editors in chief of IEEE Computer Society publications serve a maximum of two consecutive two-year terms. IEEESoftware is no exception. Therefore, January 2011 marks the end of my fourth year as editor in chief and the beginning of my successor's term. Such a turnover is both healthy and necessary. It injects fresh blood into the publication. It allows new ideas to flourish, new connections to be made, and new directions to be discovered under a new leadership and a new team. It also allows the incumbent to pursue new endeavors and contribute to the community in different ways.

The Transition

The baton will be passed to someone who has been intimately involved in the magazine for a long time, someone who has served in pivotal editorial roles and contributed a great deal over the past four years. That person is also familiar to you: Forrest Shull. Since 2007, Forrest has been associate editor in chief responsible for one of the magazine's highest-volume and most central coverage areas: empirical results. He also started the Voice of Evidence department and made it the success it is today. Between the two responsibilities, he's had to juggle more than any of his fellow associate editors. But Forrest's endless energy pushed him further: he contributed in many other ways, small and large, whenever he saw a chance to help. A highlight was his chairing a 2009 workshop, Software Architecture Challenges in the 21st Century, which Software cosponsored with the University of Southern California and the University of California, Irvine.

Armed with that experience and energy, Forrest is now gearing up to take on a different responsibility. And nobody is better prepared than him to lead the magazine. So it's with the comfort of knowing that all will be in excellent hands that I am ready to take my editor hat off and hand it over to my successor. In fact, unofficially Forrest's task has already started. The magazine staff and I have been working with him closely since his appointment in June to ensure a smooth transition. If you want to know more about Forrest, you'll find his biography in the sidebar "Incoming Editor in Chief Forrest Shull."

Thanks to Many

As for me, it was a total blast—a tremendously rewarding experience. So many contributed to that experience. Among those, our armies of readers, authors, and reviewers deserve the first mention. So thank you, readers, for being our reason to exist. Thank you, authors, for being our life sources. Thank you, reviewers, for being our sounding boards.

I've had the unique opportunity to work with many great people. Doubtless, the volunteers who serve as associate editors, columnists, and advisory board members represent some of the best minds in our industry. But it was their infectious enthusiasm and passion, beyond anything else, and their tremendous capacity to give back that have always both amazed me and kept me on my toes to match their drive. I learned a lot from them, and as a result, grew a lot. Among the group, Frances Paulisch and Stephen Mellor, the current and past chairs of Software's Advisory Board, deserve special mention. Their support and leadership have been invaluable. In particular, Frances redefined the role of Advisory Board chair over the past couple of years, becoming a true ambassador for the magazine. Her function has become central to the magazine's strategic management.

Most of my day-to-day tasks involved interacting with the magazine staff, the people who are invisible to the readers but make the magazine run in the background. I was extremely lucky to work with people who not only operate at the upper extreme of professionalism but are also conscientious and caring. I once wrote an editorial on superprofessionalism, a term that I coined to refer to people like them. They include first and foremost Dale Strok, a fixture and Software's lead staff editor, with whom I worked most closely over my entire term. Jenny Stout, Scott Hamilton, Hilda Carman, Mercy Frederickson (who works for Allen Press), Kathleen Henry, Steve Woods, and Crystal Shif are others. A shockingly sad event that plunged the Computer Society and Software into grief and left a gaping hole in that list is Scott Hamilton's sudden death on 4 September. Scott was the Society's senior manager for products and acquisitions. I am indebted to him for his support and help in dealing with some pretty thorny issues. I dedicate this last editorial to Scott's memory.

How can you help? A lot of our ideas originate from the readers. Please continue to give ample feedback: tell us about the topics that tweak your attention, whether you like what you read, what we're doing right and doing wrong. Keep the letters to the editor flowing. Respond to reader surveys.

Many readers are future authors: yes, our selection process is competitive and may require several attempts for new and seasoned authors alike, but that doesn't mean you should think twice about contacting the editor about an article idea. If you're a first-time author, make sure to visit our website's Author Center ( and read about the review process, manuscript preparation guidelines, and tips to authors.

Software relies on volunteers to exist. They dedicate countless hours on editorial, strategic, and promotional activities. Stay involved. Volunteer to be a reviewer if you have expertise in any of our coverage areas (visit the Reviewer Center of our website at Inquire about serving on the Advisory Board by writing to its chair Frances Paulisch (paulisch at ieee dot org) if you have industrial experience, contacts, and a broad perspective on our industry, you can commit at least a few hours a month to contribute, can travel to attend face-to-face meetings, and your employer is supportive. Make sure to let Frances know about how you can help.

Finally, tell your colleagues about Software. Spread the word about good software engineering practices.


Incoming Editor in Chief Forrest Shull



Forrest Shull is a division director at the Fraunhofer Center for Experimental Software Engineering in Maryland (FC-MD), a nonprofit research and technology transfer organization, where he leads the Measurement and Knowledge Management Division. At FC-MD, he has been a lead researcher on projects for NASA's Office of Safety and Mission Assurance, the NASA Safety Center, the US Department of Defense, the National Science Foundation, DARPA, and companies such as Motorola and Fujitsu Labs of America. Forrest explains his day job and his passion for his expertise area as follows:

At Fraunhofer, I oversee the Measurement & Knowledge Management Division. We use software measurement as a tool for learning about the status of a software project and feeding that information back to the developers: How confident can we be about meeting our goals? Are we aware of the important risk areas? Is the way we're working getting us where we need to go? This is all about having a tight feedback loop that helps developers get insight into how things are going. The Knowledge Management component refers to activities that help take what one project has learned and transfer that to other projects and future projects. Empiricism is an important component of both of the above activities. Empiricism simply refers to a reliance on observation, not theory or abstraction. Empirical methods help us make decisions based on what is really happening around us. The work done by the empirical research community has developed (and continues to develop) a whole stable of methods for making sound observations, so that the method chosen can align with the needs for rigor and cost constraints in whatever environment we're working.

Forrest's contributions to the software engineering community as a volunteer have been extensive. He represents FC-MD at the International Software Engineering Research Network (ISERN), a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting and supporting collaborative research in empirical software engineering. He was program chair of ISERN's 2003 meeting. Forrest also led the experience track at the International Conference on Software Engineering (ICSE) in 2006 and cochaired the International Symposium on Empirical Software Engineering (ISESE) in 2004. He is the 2011 cochair of the Empirical Software Engineering and Measurement (ESEM) conference.

Forrest has been a recurring volunteer participant and mentor in a doctoral symposium (IDOESE) and international school (IASESE) aimed at helping to train the next generation of empirical researchers. However, Forrest's passion for education is not limited to the next generation of scientists. He is also dedicated to training practicing professionals. As an associate adjunct professor at the University of Maryland, College Park, he teaches software engineering in the Professional Master of Engineering program. As Forrest says,

This is a very practically oriented program that aims to provide career development for professionals already in the engineering workforce. My highlight so far was a student who, over the course of the semester, went from being a developer to being lead developer to leading multiple teams; he wrote to me later expressing amazement at how he was being tasked with things at work right after he was getting some hands-on experience doing them in the course assignment.

Forrest has developed and delivered several courses on software measurement and inspections for NASA engineers.

Besides his roles as Software's associate editor in chief for empirical results and editor of the popular Voice of Evidence department, Forrest also served on the editorial board of Empirical Software Engineering journal.

As for Forrest's plans for Software in his new role, you'll have to wait for his inaugural editorial in the January/February issue of this magazine.

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