St. Louis hosts international software engineering conference

'Software Everywhere'

St. Louis is the site for the world’s premier software engineering annual conference from May 15-21 at the Adam’s Mark Hotel. The 27th International Conference on Software Engineering (ICSE 2005) features the latest research in software engineering, displays, exhibits, seminars, co-located conferences, and social gatherings that bring the world’s elite together in an unprecedented hub of activity in information technology (IT) in the Gateway City.

Gruia-Catalin Roman, Ph.D., Harold B. and Adelaide G. Welge Professor of Computer Science and chair of the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at Washington University in St. Louis, is the general chair for ICSE 2005 and was highly influential in bringing the conference to St. Louis, after it has made appearances in many of the world’s great cities, including Tokyo, Melbourne, Singapore, London and Berlin, as well as across the united States.

Registration for ICSE already exceeded the 800 mark and is expected to grow as high as 1,000.

The theme of the conference is “Software Everywhere” and the conference will feature research, education, and experience reports, workshops and tutorials on the hottest topics — including system security, component technologies, and aspect-oriented programming– specialized symposia, invited speakers, and a lot more. The theme emphasizes the crucial importance of software to society at large and the program reflects the wide range of issues and concerns that affect software development in general.

Also to be held at ICSE 2005 is a regional IT Summit which plans to bring together representatives of 100 different companies with a presence in the region to examine the state of the region’s IT and develop an agenda for research funding and investment in IT. A report commissioned by Saint Louis RCGA and carried out by Battelle Report found that the region offered special opportunities for growth in two areas: biotechnology and IT.

“Biotechnology has burst on the scene, but IT has been put somewhat on the back burner,” Roman said. “The Battelle findings are still valid today. We hope that IT Summit participants see this event and the conference as a way to jumpstart an IT vitalization of the St. Louis region. ”

Similar to the way an NCAA Final Four can shine a spotlight on a city and make it flush with both money and influence, Roman believes ICSE 2005 will vitalize St. Louis and help raise its stature as a regional leader in IT expertise.

“The St. Louis region has a powerful industrial base and my hope for the conference is to make this industry see the full potential offered by early adoption of IT innovations and cooperation with universities,” said Roman. “I’m not saying that we should compete with Silicon Valley. What I want to see is our various industrial sectors emerge as national leaders through the exploitation of advances in information technology; the development, retention, and attraction of top notch talent; and systematic and rapid technology adoption. The level of regional support for the conference has been incredible—$160,000 of $212, 000 raised has come from local sources—and reflects a growing understanding that investments in IT are our only hope to maintain a vibrant economic environment.”

Roman said that the IT industry expects decreasing enrollments and reduced federal funding, combined with a growing need for IT specialists, to lead to significant personnel shortages.

“A crisis is on the horizon and we can either wait to see how severe the damage will be or prevent it at the regional level while emerging a leader nationally,” he said.

Software is the technology that underpins all social and economic development of the country.

“The biggest concern is that software has become critical to our national infrastructure—everything we do relies on software,” Roman said. “Building secure software, being responsive to human needs, reducing the time-to-market, and being increasingly more responsive to human and social needs are very serious issues that the software engineering community must address. Virtually every new technology being developed entails reliance on software technology. Public demands and growing needs have put huge pressures on software engineering.”

On a more intellectual level, Roman feels that higher education needs to focus much more on multidisciplinary training, particularly on the integration of computing expertise and knowledge into fields of study as diverse as science and art, medicine and engineering. Soon, a technical person will need to master both their own specialty and ways to exploit computer science and engineering. As an example, modern exploration and exploitation of the genome demands a deep knowledge of both biology and computing.

“I see software as part of the critical infrastructure, and the way to promote it in the region is to get everybody involved in it so that they can see that their own livelihood depends on advances in software technology,” he said.