Career Profiles

Explore profiles of real professionals and students to learn how they got started, what they love about computing, and all about the fascinating work they do.
Susan Land

Susan K. (Kathy) Land

Deputy Program Manager, Huntsville, United States

Degree(s):

Master Science, Project Management - Information Technology, Florida Institute of Technology
“Active participation in a professional association at some level is critical for individuals who wish to get the most from their professional careers. The IEEE family is 125 years strong and growing stronger. I would invite you to see how each of you might use the IEEE Computer Society as a learning resource, to get and stay connected, and as an opportunity to serve in your technical community.”

I 'grew up' with Software and Systems Engineering. My first technical job was as the systems administrator supporting a missile defense laboratory in the early 1980's. I have worked on, or led, a variety of software/systems efforts ranging from video game development to hardware-in-the-loop missile testing. If I had to point to one key to success in this field - stay technically current.

The range of roles I support tends to mirror the product development life cycle: Marketer, proposal developer, detailed requirements evaluator, software designer, software configuration manager, software quality assurance expert, software test lead, software fielding team member/lead, documentation support team member, and help desk team member. The environment is dynamic.

I am a Deputy Program Manager for the Missile Defense Agency. Responsible for program management of Spiral 8.2 of Command, Control, Communications and Battle Management system. I like the work because each day brings a new technical challenge.

Although I have been proud of all projects I have supported, the one with the highest 'cool factor' was as Lead for Product Development supporting the Army Aviation Missile Research Development and Engineering Center (AMRDEC) Software Engineering Directorate, Redstone Arsenal, AL. I executed and managed a series of successful releases of the America's Army public game and training application.

I am an active volunteer with both IEEE and the IEEE Computer Society. I strongly believe in the value of these professional associations.

Browse other profiles

Explore profiles of real professionals and students to learn how they got started, what they love about computing, and all about the fascinating work they do.

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Punch card from a COBOL program
Jean Sammet

Jean E. Sammet was one of the first developers and researchers in programming languages. During the 1950’s - 1960’s she supervised the first scientific programming group for Sperry Gyroscope Co. and served as a key member of the original COBOL (COmmon Business-Oriented Language) committee at Sylvania Electric Products. She also taught one of the first graduate programming courses in the country at Adelphi College. After joining IBM in 1961, she developed and directed the first FORMAC (FORmula MAnipulation Compiler). This was the first widely used general language and system for manipulating nonnumeric algebraic expressions. In 1979 she began handling Ada activities for IBM’s Federal Systems Division. Ada is a structured, object-oriented high-level computer programming language, designed for large, long-lived applications, where reliability and efficiency are paramount. Jean has a B.A. from Mount Holyoke College and an M.A. from the University of Illinois, both in Mathematics. She received an honorary D.Sc. from Mount Holyoke (1978).

Turing machine
Alan Mathison Turing
Alan Mathison Turing

Did you know that computing has been used in military espionage and has even influenced the outcome of major wars? Alan Mathison Turing designed the code breaking machine that enabled the deciphering of German communications during WWII. As per the words of Winston Churchill, this would remain the single largest contribution to victory. In addition, he laid the groundwork for visionary fields such as automatic computing engines, artificial intelligence and morphogenesis. Despite his influential work in the field of computing, Turing experienced extreme prejudice during his lifetime regarding his sexual orientation. There is no doubt that computers are ubiquitously part of our lives due to the infusion of Turing’s contributions.

First computer mouse
Douglas Engelbart
Douglas Engelbart

In 1967, Douglas Engelbart applied for a patent for an "X-Y position indicator for a display system," which he and his team developed at the Stanford Research Institute (SRI) in Menlo Park, California. The device, a small, wooden box with two metal wheels, was nicknamed a "mouse" because a cable trailing out of the one end resembled a tail.

In addition to the first computer mouse, Engelbart’s team developed computer interface concepts that led to the GUI interface, and were integral to the development of ARPANET--the precursor to today’s Internet. Engelbart received his bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from Oregon State University in 1948, followed by an MS in 1953 and a Ph.D. in 1955 both from the University of California, Berkeley.

Bletchley Park
Dr. Sue Black
Dr. Sue Black

Dr. Sue Black has demonstrated the power of social networking. She used Web 2.0 technologies to help raise awareness of, and critical funding for, Bletchley Park, the UK World War II center for decrypting enemy messages. She has also been an active campaigner for equality and support for women in technology fields, founding a number of online networking platforms for women technology professionals. A keen researcher, Dr. Black completed a PhD in software measurement in 2001. Her research interests focus on software quality improvements. She has recently won the PepsiCo Women's Inspiration Network award, been named Tech Hero by ITPRO magazine and was awarded the first John Ivinson Award from the British Computer Society. In 2011 Dr. Black set up The goto Foundation, a nonprofit organization which aims to make computer science more meaningful to the public, generate public excitement in the creation of software, and build a tech savvy workforce. Read Sue's blog about The goto Foundation: http://gotofdn.org

Cursor
James Dammann

If you have used a word processor today, moved your mouse on your laptop, dragged an object around on your smartphone, or highlighted a section of text on your tablet, you can thank Jim Dammann. In 1961 during his second year at IBM and just one year after completing his PhD, Jim created the concept of what today we all take for granted -- the cursor. This idea he documented in utilizing the cursor within word processing operations.

After retiring from IBM, Jim went on to inspire future generations of software engineers at Florida Atlantic University. His work there too demonstrated his creativity for he spent considerable effort enhancing their software engineering program by integrating ideas and feedback from local industries into the University curricular. Today, Jim lives in the Westlake Hills west of Austin Texas and spends most of his time in his art studio. He wrote and published The Opaque Decanter, a collection of poems about art, which provided a new view at part of art history.

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