Prof. Andrew Russell (Assistant Professor, History and Director, Program in Science and Technology Studies) in the College of Arts & Letters is one of five scholars named by the Association for Computing Machinery History Committee as winners of the 2013 ACM History Fellowship. Russell's project, titled "Quality Standards for Computing Education: A History of the Computer Sciences Accreditation Board (CSAB)," examines the creation and development of the CSAB. The CSAB was created in 1984 with two member societies - the ACM and the IEEE Computer Society - and the goal to evaluate and establish model curricula and quality standards for computing degree programs at American colleges and universities. To accomplish this goal, the CSAB created an accreditation process and forged a formal partnership with the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET).
Prof. Russell acknowledges that "accreditation is quite a painful subject for most academics," but also provides unique opportunities for learning more about nascent disciplines such as computer science. He is most interested in bigger questions that accreditation can illuminate, such as: how did computer experts define the boundaries of their disciplines and their professional organizations? How did the CSAB convince educators that its accreditation processes were rigorous, legitimate, and trustworthy? And what universities resisted or contested the CSAB's authority, or decided that accreditation wasn't worth the hassle?
Russell and the other winners of the 2013 ACM History Fellowship will present their work at a history of computing workshop in spring 2014, hosted by the Charles Babbage Institute for the History of Information Technology at the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis.