I just recently attended the 28th Annual IEEE Software Technology Conference (STC) sponsored by IEEE and hosted and the National Institute of Standards (NIST).    The conference provided attendees with incredible quality content – 8 wonderful keynote sessions and 51 great presentations (OK – I didn’t attend all of them obviously but the ones I did were insightful, useful and informative. 

STC was founded in 1989  by the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition (Communications, Computers, and Support Systems), Mr. Lloyd Mosemann, through the Software Technology Support Center (STSC) at Hill Air Force Base.  The purpose of the conference was to provide information and training on software engineering issues and technologies.  This first conference had about 200 attendees and 15 exhibitors. 

Over time the conference grew – expanding to encompass software issues relevant to all the services and by the late 1990’s it was jointly sponsored by the US Army, US Marine Corps, US Navy, US Air Force and Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA).  The 1998 STC had over 3300 registered attendees and roughly 240 IT vendors displaying their services and wares in the Salt Palace Convention Center in Salt Lake City.  In 2004 the STC conference became the Software and Systems Technology Conference (SSTC) embracing systems and software engineering topics.  By 2005 the conference attendance was down to 1900 with 210 exhibitor; after 2005 it is difficult to determine the number of attendees in subsequent years but it noticeably dwindled – as did conference participation across the industry and the DoD.  The conference committee tried to mix it up and boost attendance in 2007 and 2008 by changing the venue to Tampa, FL and Las Vegas, NV.  When neither of these worked the conference was returned to Salt Lake City in 2009 but with only about 30 vendors and several hundred attendees.  Several years ago, the IEEE took over the conference and it was held in Long Beach California but the conference continued to struggle for participants.  This year the IEEE joined forces with NIST to host the conference in Gaithersburg MD – while attendance was still low - this venue did make the conference profitable once again.  NIST will be hosting again in 2018 and the hope is that this year’s success coupled with a full year to advertise STC and its proximity to the DC area – that attendance will start to pick up.

So why, you wonder, am I telling you this.  Well the truth is that I have been attending STC for the better part of the last 25 years and I would hate to see it go away because I think the program committee continues, despite falling numbers, to put together an incredibly impressive program.  This year’s conference had keynote speakers such as:

  • James Thompson – Director Major Program Support DASD/SE – talking about the cost, schedule, quality and value challenges in software acquisition and sustainment
  • Barry Boehm- USC SCE – discussing diversity in software and subsequent cost estimating challenges
  • A great panel hosted by Anita Carleson (Software Solutions Deputy Director, SEI) with panelists – Read Admiral James Downey (Deputy Commander Surface Warfare Command), Robert Gold (Director Engineering Enterprise – DASD (SE)), Forrest Shull (Assistant Director Empirical Research – SEI), Carol Woody (Technical Manager CERT CyberSecurity Engineering TEAM – SEI) – the panel discussed the future of DoD weapons systems, DoD Acquisition, the software workforce, cybersecurity demands, and data analytics
  • Gregory Touhill – President of the Cyxtera Federal Group gave a great talk on cybersecurity – the threats, issues and best practices.
  • Etc.

Click here to see the program and the presentations that were presented at this year’s conference https://conference.usu.edu/stc/Schedule/grid.cfm

In addition to 8 keynotes there were another 50+ talks given in one of 5 tracks (Cyber Security, Systems Engineering, Metrics, Agile and Test & Verification) most of which seem to have been quite excellent. 

My point with this post is to spread awareness of this great conference and hopefully to inspire one or more of my readers to consider attending STC 2018 which will be held at the NIST facility around this time next year.  Not only will you learn a lot – you will have the chance to mingle with some of the best and brightest minds in the software engineering profession.