Making ICSE the Premiere
Software Engineering Event

By Lainie Berger

Despite the growing number of software engineering conventions, the International Conference on Software Engineering still appeals to a broad range of professionals in the field. Professor Rick Adrion attributes this to setting high goals for the quality and management of the conference. He says, "The primary goal [of ICSE] was to close the gaps in the community, particularly between researchers and practitioners." This is accomplished by adding "tracks of interest to practitioners (more tutorials, industrial panels, lessons, and exhibits) and researchers (traditional technical program, workshops, posters and doctoral consortium)."

The fact that ICSE accommodates both researchers and practitioners should make it the premier event in the industry. This success did not happen overnight, though. There were obstacles faced which included the fact that there are more software engineering conferences now than ever before - both general (STC, Software Quality Week, COMPSAC) and focused (symposia and workshops). There are several dozen between April and July; dates may not seem to be a complicated issue, but scheduling became a hurdle in the planning process.

"We had to move ICSE," said Adrion, "to avoid a conflict with STC (they had locked in their hotels), and then had to ask the SEI and Quality Week to reschedule their conferences once we moved to May." He thanks Larry Druffel and Ed Miller for being so cooperative on this subject. He says, "The one hurdle we did not expect and did not overcome was the conflict with the Boston area college graduations and the lack of hotel space on the weekend of May 17 - 18." But the broadened issues focus, the expanded publicity, and the professional management of the program win over any obstacles.

The professional management has been in action since early in 1995. When asked how much time has been spent on the logistics and planning of the convention, Adrion said: "a few person-weeks were spent in 1995, and in 1996, several person-months were dedicated, with heavy concentrations around the CFP (April), the PC meeting (October) and AP (December). In 1997, the ICSE has been almost a full-time job." He says this as if he had only one job...he has accomplished all of this while still serving as a professor and as a CEO of a technical transfer company. Adrion added, "the 20-30 hours per week has grown to 30-40 hours per week this last month. I can recall only one free weekend since January 1."

All the hours of planning have resulted in a conference that combines exhibits, workshops, symposia, and tutorials. Efforts from all corners of the world will combine to make this an educational event to bring together many different perspectives, concerns, and abilities.