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Support by Informatics for the Alvey Software Engineering (SE) Programme consisted mainly of:
- Programme Management and Support: for the Alvey Software Engineering Director at Millbank. Rob Witty was Deputy Director of the Programme and had responsibility for the overall strategy, its infrastructure policy and the general academic contribution.
- Technical Support and Development: required by the Programme such as assessing grant applications and briefing the Director on specific technical issues.
Funding came 75% from DTI and 25% from SERC for these activities.
Many grants had been awarded as part of the SERC Software Technology Initiative and, at the start of the Alvey Programme, these grants were included in the portfolio providing continuity and involvement of the relevant SE researchers in the Alvey programme. These were augmented by new awards and the portfolio soon grew to about 90 projects of which over 30 were fully collaborative between academia and industry. There were over 50 smaller uncled projects.
Support from Informatics consisted of interaction with academic groups to assist in the preparation of grant applications and coordination of the SERC/Alvey Directorate interface.Being a directed programme, there was much closer involvement in both the preparation of the grant applications and the execution stage of the research. All projects were monitored, both technically and financially. This involved preparation of a database on all projects, collation of reports, generation of summaries and spend profiles. Regular reports were required from Monitoring Officers for collaborative projects and from industrial Uncles for academic only projects. Any exceptions raised by this monitoring process had to be acted upon.
Support was also provided for the Alvey SE Office in Millbank by providing assistance in meetings, workshops, panels and presentations. Much effort was expended in maintaining the files and reporting procedures for the programme. To assist in maintaining continuity of research, a mailshot service was operated. An essential part of the Alvey programme was the dissemination of information generated by the many research projects. These results were presented in the form of discrete deliverables for each project. To meet this part of the Alvey programme a procedure for disseminating information about the SE deliverables was established. As the deliverables become available abstracts were provided, edited and collated for publication as a supplement to the bi-monthly Alvey News, thereby reaching 7000 potentially interested parties. Further information about the deliverables could be obtained from the relevant project manager or owner of the IPR.
Rob Witty, Mike Russell and David Findley, supported by Lilian Valentine and Janice Gore, were the main people involved early on. Jill Cheney and Terry Mawby were recruited later on to this activity.
ACARD (the Advisory Council for Applied Research and Development) was a high level body which reported to the Cabinet on long term issues. ACARD made a study of the state of the UK software industry, its future prospects and the role of software engineering in all aspects of UK industrial activity. The study was conducted by a working group chaired by John Coplin, the Design Director of Rolls Royce with Rob Witty as a member.
The working group produced a report called Software: a vital key to UK competitiveness. Rob Witty, John Coplin and Sir Francis Tombs (ACARD Chairman) launched the report at a Press Conference in June 1986. The report caused considerable public debate.
Rob Witty was made Alvey Software Engineering Director in August 1986 and continued in that role until the beginning of 1987. In April 1987 Rob had a one-year sabbatical at Xerox PARC.