The European Academic Software Award

Speech of Prof. Dr. A. Schreiner,
University of Karlsruhe

Chairman of the EASA Committee

Dear host, Professor Götze, Mr. Parajon Collada, Mr. Jalling, Mr. Axmann, Mr. Darby, Mr. Liebrand,

may I welcome the representatives of the German Ministry of Science, Research, and Education and the German Conference of University Rectors, as well as those from industry, universities and especially press and radio.

Let me first of all express my hearty thanks to Prof. Götze and all the employees and organizers from Springer who were so generous and helpful in hosting the last round of the competition and final ceremony of the first European Software Award (EASA) here.

What does "The first European Software Award" mean?

The EASA has its origins in the first German Software Award which took place in 1990 and was followed by four Austrian-German Awards on the initiative of Dr. Axmann.
And now on the initiative of Mr. Liebrand, Mr. Kjellerström and Mr. Lehmann, we have the European-wide competition EASA.

The competition was open to the whole of Europe, which meant distributing 800 press releases and mailing 750 entry forms for academic software authors.

The entry forms are very demanding and also represent a motivation for 750 academics to produce high-quality software.

Before I outline how the contest was evaluated, let me make some remarks on the software and quality of the software itself:
For EASA, software is defined in a very general way: it makes computers do what the end user wants to be done. It involves more than merely some stylish interpretations, it also includes interfaces to the hardware as well as to the user - whether these are mechanical, textual, multimedia or other.
The software quality attained by authors who are scientists or students cannot be as sophisticated as that from software companies, but it should be more innovative. It should be capable of being used by other colleagues and not not only be made for one's own personal use, at is too often the case.
The quality should be suffiently high to also attract commercial publishing and software houses.

Now back to the competition itself: we received more than 200 entries from 22 nations, including the USA and Turkey.
We have nearly 70 jurors in 8 different European countries.
Each program was evaluated at least six times by different jurors.
34 programs reached the final contest in Heidelberg. These finalists wrote excellent software in the manner I have defined. For this reason they will all receive a certificate.
The EASA itself will be presented to 15 software packages. You will have the opportunity to see them demonstrated by the authors here.

I will not end my contribution without touching on the future:
Will there be a second EASA?
We received a great deal of encouragement, and it the necessary finalcial resources are forthcoming, we will continue.
But there will be some larger changes, too:

  1. We will introduce a pre-reviewing stage, based on a much simpler application form. Then, only invited authors will submit contributions.

  2. The evaluation will be done via the electronic data networks. As soon as possible, we will conduct the process via multimedia conference systems which include the authors' prestations. Affordable hard- and software upgrades for PCs are now coming onto the market. So the vision is realistic.

  3. The award should be part of a larger project, including general information engineering, with the aim of establishing contacts between the universities in all European countries.

With the EASA we are reaching nearly the largest group of academics across all countries and subjects.
After this glance into the future, let us return to the celebration of our first EASA today: I hope you will be satisfied with the results.
Thank you.