It's 1985, and in a makeshift, rented office space just minutes from Carnegie Mellon's Pittsburgh campus, half a dozen people gather to celebrate. The university's provost, Angel Jordan, proudly looks around at his colleagues. During the past year, they have completed what Jordan calls "a monstrosity of a proposal," followed by two intense rounds of presentations at the Department of Defense. More than 40 universities vied for the honor of becoming the new headquarters to combat what Jordan calls "the software crisis."

It's a crisis caused not by a lack of software, but a lack of an efficient transfer of software technology to industry, including the defense department. Officials there informed Jordan that Carnegie Mellon was awarded a $100 million, five-year contract to help deal with the crisis. The Software Engineering Institute was born.

This year, four renewals later, SEI celebrates its 25th anniversary.

Since its inception, it has developed many world-recognized trademarks. For example, its Capability Maturity Model has been globally adopted as a data-driven formula for objectively assessing whether a software program can perform as intended. Also, CERT (Computer Emergency Response Team) was developed by SEI, in reaction to the first Internet virus in 1988, and has successfully thwarted more than 320,000 incidents.

Jordan has long since retired, but he is still considered the "Godfather" by today's SEI staff, which now exceeds 500. The institute's home has changed, too, moving from cramped office space to a five-story office building, still just a few minutes from campus. Jordan continues to make weekly visits.
Kate Dunfee

For more information:
Driving the Future

Carnegie Mellon's Software Engineering Institute Receives Contract Extension From US Government