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Using History to Improve Undergraduate Teaching of
Computer Science

August 6 - 7, 2001
Amherst College, Amherst Massachusetts

About the Speakers

Janet Abbate is a Faculty Research Scholar at the University of Maryland, College Park. She holds a B.A. from Harvard-Radcliffe and a Ph.D. in American Civilization from the University of Pennsylvania. She has taught history and social issues in science and technology at Harvard, the University of Pennsylvania, Rutgers University, and the University of Maryland. She was also a Research Associate with the Information Infrastructure Project at the Kennedy School of Government. Her publications include Inventing the Internet (MIT Press, 1999), numerous articles on the history of computer networks, and Standards Policy for Information Infrastructure (co-edited with Brian Kahin, MIT Press, 1995); her work on "Government, Business, and the Making of the Internet" was recently featured in the Business History Review. Her current research, sponsored by the National Science Foundation, is a history of women in computing, which will compare the experiences of female computer scientists and programmers in the United States and Great Britain from WWII to the 1980s.

Gerard Alberts is director of the Science & Society Programme at Nijmegen University and senior researcher for history at the Centre for Mathematics and Computer Science in Amsterdam (CWI). He graduated in mathematics at the University of Amsterdam and took his Ph.D. in history cum laude at the same university. He has taught courses in history of mathematics at Twente University and Nijmegen University and is teaching history of computing at the University of Amsterdam. His contributions to the history of mathematics concetrate on the history of mathematical modelling, e.g. Jaren van Berekening (Calculative Years; Application-Oriented Initiatives in Dutch Mathematics 1945-1960) (Amsterdam University Press, 1998) and Twee Geesten van de Wiskunde (The Dual Spirit of Mathematics; A Biography of David van Dantzig 1900-1959) (Amsterdam: CWI, 2000) and `On connecting Socialism and Mathematics: Dirk Struik, Jan Burgers and Jan Tinbergen' Historia Mathematica 21 (1994), 280-305. He has written on the history of computing (on the rise of IT in the Netherlands, with Ellen van Oost and Jan van den Ende), advised on museum exhibitions on early computers, and is currently preparing a biography of the founding father of computer science in The Netherlands, Aad van Wijngaarden.

William Aspray is Executive Director of the Computing Research Association, an educational non-profit in Washington, DC. He holds a B.A. and M.A. in mathematics from Wesleyan University and an M.A. and Ph.D. in history of science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He has taught mathematics and computer science at Williams College and history of science at Harvard University. He served as associate director of the Charles Babbage Institute for the History of Information Processing at the University of Minnesota and director of the IEEE Center for the History of Electrical Engineering at Rutgers University. He was also director of graduate studies in the history of technology, medicine, and science in the Rutgers history department. He has taught courses in the history of computing at Harvard, Minnesota, and Penn. His writings on the history of computing include John von Neumann and the Origins of Modern Computing (MIT Press, 1990) and Computer: A History of the Information Machine (Basic Books, 1996, with Martin Campbell-Kelly, commissioned by the Sloan Foundation). Since 1981 he has co-edited with Bernard Cohen the MIT Press Series in the History of Computing. His current research focuses on contemporary information technology policy issues, the history of IT policy, and the history of academic computer science.

Nathan Ensmenger is a Lecturer in the History & Sociology of Science at the University of Pennsylvania, where he is also serving as the interim director of a new interdisciplinary program aimed at integrating computer science into the humanities curriculum. He holds a B.S.E. in Civil Engineering/Operations Research from Princeton University, and an M.A. and Ph.D. in the History of Science from the University of Pennsylvania. He is currently working on a book tentatively entitled From "Black Art" to Industrial Discipline: The Software Crisis and the Professionalization of Computer Programming. His research interests include software labor issues, computer ethics, and the history of artificial intelligence.

Thomas Haigh is currently completing his Ph.D. in History and Sociology of Science at the University of Pennsylvania. His dissertation, "From Office Manager to CIO: Managing Information Processing in American Corporations, 1917-1990" is the first full-length historical examination of this topic. His recent essay "Inventing Information Systems: The Systems Men and the Computer, 1950-1968" was selected as the leading article for a special 75th anniversary issue of Business History Review. He has taught at Penn and Drexel, on topics including computing and popular culture, database design,economic history and science fiction. He holds B.Sc. and M.Eng. degrees in Systems Integration from the Computer Science department of the University of Manchester. Among his recent fellowships are a Fulbright Award for graduate study in the USA, the IEEE Life Member Fellowship in Electrical History, and the Tomash Fellowship from the Charles Babbage Institute of the University of Minnesota. For the academic year 2001-2 he will be a visiting faculty member in the Administrative Science and Science, Technology, and Society programs of Colby College. His website can be found at

Chuck Huff is Professor of Psychology at St. Olaf College. He received his Ph.D. in Social Psychology from Princeton University in 1987 and was a NIH post-doctoral fellow with the Committee for Social Science Research in Computing at Carnegie Mellon University. Chuck has taught Psychology at William & Mary, Princeton, St. Olaf and Carnegie Mellon. He has taught courses in Computers and Society at Carnegie Mellon, St. Olaf College, and George Washington University. He has also taught courses in Philosophy at the University of South Florida. During the 1994-1995 academic year he was a research scientist at George Washington University as a member of a national task force to design guidelines for teaching ethical and social issues in computing in computer science. He has published empirical research on moral reasoning, on gender and computing, on the social effects of electronic interaction, and on the uses of computing in education. He has written extensively on teaching about the social and ethical issues associated with computing. He is currently the PI of an NSF-funded project to produce a website containing detailed historical cases for teaching ethical issues in computing.

John A.N. (JAN) Lee is a Fellow of the ACM and Professor of Computer Science at Virginia Tech, teaching courses related to programming languages, software engineering, and professionalism. His formal education was in the field of Applied Sciences, but was converted to the then un-named field of Computer Science through circumstances in 1959. He founded the Computer Science programs at both Queen's University at Kingston (Canada) and the University of Massachusetts/Amherst, before moving onto Virginia Tech to establish the graduate program. He was the author of the first US textbook on compiler design (The Anatomy of a Compiler) and most recently published a collection of biographies entitled Computer Pioneers. He served as the Editor-in-Chief of the Annals of the History of Computing 1987-1995 and was responsible for the establishment of the journal as an IEEE Computer Society publication. His current work concentrates on adapting active learning techniques to web-based courses.

Jennifer Light is Assistant Professor in the Department of Communication Studies and Faculty Fellow at the Institute for Policy Research at Northwestern University. Dr. Light holds an A.B. in History and Literature and a Ph.D. in History of Science from Harvard University. She received her M.Phil. in History and Philosophy of Science from Cambridge University, where she was the Lionel de Jersey Harvard Scholar. Dr. Light has taught courses on the history and sociology of technology at Northwestern, Harvard, and the University of Edinburgh. She has also consulted for the RAND Corporation. Light’s recent writings include several studies of inequality in the information society, from the digital divide (forthcoming in the Harvard Educational Review) to the role of telecommuting and workplace accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act (forthcoming in the Journal of the American Planning Association). She is currently working on Cities in the Information Society (to be published by Johns Hopkins University Press), which explores how military techniques and technologies, and national security concerns, have shaped the intellectual and organizational history of American cities since World War Two.

Michael S. Mahoney is Professor of History in the Program in History of Science at Princeton University, where he earned his Ph.D. in History in 1967. His research has focused on the development of the mathematical sciences from Antiquity to 1700 and on the recent history of computing. He has worked as consultant to Bell Labs both on software development and on an oral history of UNIX(tm). He also served in 1990-91 as Chair of an OTA Advisory Panel for "Computer Software and Intellectual Property: Meeting the Challenges of Technological Change and Global Competition". A member of the IEEE Computer Society and the ACM since 1987, he has been Editor of the ACM Press's History Series, a member of the Conference Committee, and a member of the Advisory Committee for SIGGRAPH's "Milestones: The History of Computer Graphics". He served as Historian for the second ACM Conference on the History of Programming Languages (Cambridge, 1993). He has written several articles on the history of computing, which can be found on his Web site at His current research focuses on the formation of theoretical computer science as a mathematical discipline and on the historical models underlying efforts to establish software engineering as an engineering discipline.

James E. Tomayko is a Principal Lecturer in the School of Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon University, and a Senior Member of the Technical Staff of the Software Engineering Institute. He is the Director of the Master of Software Engineering Program in CS. Dr. Tomayko directs the Software Development Studio for the MSE program, which provides students with a laboratory for direct application of concepts learned in coursework. Previously, he was leader of the Academic Education Project at the SEI. Prior to returning to Carnegie Mellon in 1989, he founded the software engineering graduate program at The Wichita State University. He has worked in Industry through employee, contract, or consulting relationships with NCR, NASA, Boeing Defense and Space Group, Carnegie Works, Xerox, the Westinghouse Energy Center, Keithley Instruments, PPG, and Mycro-Tek. Dr. Tomayko has written best-selling courses on managing software development and overviews of software engineering for the SEI and has given seminars and lectures on software fault tolerance, software development management, and software process improvement at over 200 universities and companies around the world. He has had a parallel career in the history of technology, specializing in the history of computing in aerospace. He has written four books and two articles on spacecraft computer systems and software, primarily concentrating on NASA's systems. For the last eight years, he has researched the history of fly-by-wire technology, and has published three papers on the subject. He is currently working on a monograph about NASA's Intelligent Flight Control System.

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