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SIGCAS Making A Difference Award 2002

by kanthou — last modified 2007-12-21 12:53

2002 SIGCAS Making A Difference Award Recipient
DONALD GOTTERBARN, East Tennessee State University

The SIGCAS Making a Difference Award is given annually to an individual nationally recognized for work related to the interaction of computers and society. The recipient is a leader in promoting awareness of ethical and social issues in computing. The recipients of this award and the award itself encourage responsible action by computer professionals.

Dr. Don Gotterbarn is a professor of Computer Science at East Tennessee State University, where he heads the Software Engineering Ethics Research Institute. He is a prolific writer, with papers in Communications of the ACM, IEEE Computer, The Australian Journal of Information Systems, Computers and Society, The Journal of Systems and Software, Studia-Leibnitiana, and The Journal of the History of Philosophy, to name only a few. He is an invited speaker nationally and internationally, with recent appointments as a visiting scholar in Australia and the United Kingdom. Dr. Gotterbarn's vita reflects a wide variety of interests, and a seemingly limitless energy.

Dr. Gotterbarn's success in combining computing and ethics may be in part due to his combination of scholarly work in philosophy and practical experience in computing. He received a Ph.D. in philosophy from the University of Rochester in 1971, and also worked as a computing consultant. His consulting work included developing software systems for the U.S. Navy and the Saudi Arabian Navy. He has worked on databases, vote counting software, and missile defense systems. Of late, with support from the National Science Foundation, he and Simon Rogerson have been developing SoDIS, a CASE tool for discovering and documenting the ethical impact of a software development effort.

Dr. Gotterbarn's scholarship, his publications, and his tireless advocacy for computer ethics all make a positive difference. But perhaps his most influential contribution thus far to the goals of SIGCAS is his leadership in the development and promotion of the Software Engineering Code of Ethics. Don was the chair of the executive committee of the joint ACM/IEEE Computer Society task force that produced a code of ethics eventually approved by both organizations. The intellectual and political challenges of that effort were considerable, but Don was tenacious and, ultimately, successful. After the ACM and the IEEE Computer Society accepted version 5.2 of the Code, its influence has grown dramatically. Today the code is translated or being translated into Spanish, Chinese, and Italian. Companies and organizations interested in software development are adopting the code in the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, Croatia, China, and Israel. The Code, like so much of Dr. Gotterbarn's work, required scholarly rigor, political skill, and practical sense. That combination makes a difference.

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