ECE Professor Emeritus John W. Brackett Dies


Professor Emeritus John W. Brackett (ECE)
Professor Emeritus John W. Brackett (ECE)

Professor Emeritus John W. Brackett (ECE), a College of Engineering faculty member since 1987, died at Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center in New Hampshire on September 9 after a brief illness.

Brackett served as professor of computer systems engineering in the College of Engineering and as a visiting professor in the Graduate School of Management, teaching graduate courses in systems and software requirements definition, software architecture for distributed systems, and information technology project management. His research focused on software engineering, software requirements definition, object-oriented testing, and rapid prototyping of embedded systems.

Before embarking on his academic career, Brackett spent 17 years in industry advancing major computer-based systems. He was one of the founders of SofTech, a Boston-based software company which in 15 years grew from an initial staff of 5 to over 700 employees with offices in the U.S., the United Kingdom and Japan. As vice president of Software Production, he managed the company’s software development projects for large commercial and government clients. He later served as SofTech’s president and CEO and as a director of the company from 1976 to 1984, and worked as vice president of the Business Products Division of Infocom, Inc.

“John was a dedicated instructor with a vision to develop a PhD program in software engineering,” said ECE Department Chair and Professor David Castañón (ECE, SE). “He joined the Wang Institute [of Graduate Studies] and subsequently Boston University to instantiate this vision, and he created a graduate curriculum of professional software engineering courses. For his efforts, he was nominated for the Metcalf award, BU’s highest recognition for excellence in teaching.

“John became an emeritus professor in 1999 but continued contributing to the ECE Department’s software engineering efforts by teaching part-time. He remained passionate about his curricular vision over the years, recently participating in a national effort, the Integrated Software & Systems Engineering Curriculum Project, to develop a graduate curriculum for teaching software engineering.”

Beyond BU, Brackett delivered lectures on software engineering and project management for the Master’s Program in Engineering Management at Tufts University, the National Technological University, the Software Engineering Institute, the Association of Computing Machinery, and several companies in the U.S., Europe and Japan. He gave the keynote address at the IEEE Euromicro Workshop on Real-Time Systems in Italy, served on multiple program committees for the International Conference on Software Engineering and the International Conference on Requirements Engineering, and participated in software program review panels for the Department of Defense and National Science Foundation.

Brackett also worked with software companies as an interim manager and consultant. His consulting clients included Alcatel Communications, Computer Sciences Corporation, the Federal Aviation Administration, JP Morgan, Lockheed Martin, Rockwell International, Science Applications International Corporation and the Software Productivity Consortium.

He received his BS degree from MIT in 1959 and his PhD from Purdue University in 1963, and served as a postdoctoral research associate at MIT’s Laboratory for Computer Science.

Brackett is survived by his daughter Julienne Brackett, her mother Donna Colleen Brackett, and his grandchildren Alyssa Nicole Gredinger and Andrew Noah Gredinger. A memorial service will be held on November 9 at 11 a.m. at BU’s Marsh Chapel. Condolences may be addressed to Donna Colleen Brackett at 757 Highland Avenue Apt. 206S, Needham Heights, MA 02494.

-Mark Dwortzan