Ladies and Gentlemen, it is my pleasant task this evening to welcome you to this inaugural lecture by Bashar Nuseibeh, and a very big pleasure it is for me too. I'd like to, in particular, welcome the family of Bashar - very nice to have you here this evening - and friends and colleagues who have travelled from elsewhere to be with us.
I think an inaugural lecture at the university is a special event in the life of the university and we enjoy it in a particular kind of way: celebratory at one point and testing at another. I assured Bashar that nobody had every died from giving an inaugural lecture, and he came straight back and said that nobody had every died from introducing an inauguree! So that was one each, or one-love.
If you look at the roots of the word "inaugural", of course it's "auger", which is sometimes a religious event, in which omens and signs are discerned, and sometimes this entails looking at the entrails of birds and things like that! You can be a prophet or a soothsayer, you can be predicting some future event. We don't have to get into some such messy stuff, we are looking to our new professor to tell us what the future holds for his particular discipline. And we look forward to hearing from him, but in the meantime, let me introduce him in a slightly more formal way.
Bashar is a Palestinian from a very old Jerusalem family. He spent his school years in Jordan, Scotland, and the United Arab Emirates.
In 1985, he joined the University of Sussex as an undergraduate in Computer Science, and emerged, three years later, with a First Class Honours degree in Computer Systems Engineering. The following year he obtained a Masters in the Foundations of Advanced Information Technology from Imperial College, London. And, after an eye-opening year in industry – his words , not mine – working as a "Sales Engineer" with an electronic instrumentation company called Tektronix, he eased himself back into academia in 1990 as a Research Assistant at Imperial College, where he completed his PhD, and was then appointed as a Lecturer and then Reader in Computing. When he left Imperial College to join the Open University last year, he was Director of Imperial's Centre for Systems Requirements Engineering, which he co-founded with colleagues at Imperial College, University College London (UCL), and the Institution of Electrical Engineers (IEE).
Bashar's research has often been motivated by the desire to address real industrial problems, and many of his research projects have involved industrial collaborations with organisations like Philips, Texas Instruments, the UK National Air Traffic Services (NATS), and NASA, where he also spent a short sabbatical in 1998.
Bashar engages in the usual collection academic and professional activities – pause for you to guess – serving as Editor-in-Chief of an international journal and Member of various conference programme committees. He actually enjoys organising research conferences in attractive locations, I am told, most recently in Toronto and Honolulu.
Bashar joined the OU as Professor of Computing on 1st January 2001, and promptly took that day off! He has worked a little harder since then, and last month he became Director of Research in the Computing Department. Today he will talk about some of his own research, in his inaugural lecture, which is entitled: "If Software is the Solution, What is the Problem?"