IBM Sponsors New IEEE Medal Named for Computing Pioneer Frances E. Allen

A new IEEE medal, sponsored by IBM, honors computing pioneer and IEEE Fellow Frances E. Allen, who died on 4 August.

Allen, who is also an IBM Fellow, helped design and build Alpha, a high-level code-breaking language that featured the ability to create new alphabets beyond the system-defined ones. For her contributions to computing, Allen received the Association for Computing Machinery’s A.M. Turing Award in 2006. She was the first woman to receive the honor. She is also an ACM Fellow.

“Professionally, Fran spent a lifetime working to advance the field of computing and pioneer new breakthroughs,” says Ryan McKee, a family representative of Allen’s. “She was equally focused on inspiring and motivating young people—especially women—to do the same. Fran would be honored to accept this honor in the hopes that it will celebrate and inspire young men and women to pursue the next generation of challenges.”
The IEEE Frances E. Allen Medal, established in 2020 by the IEEE Board of Directors, recognizes innovative work in computing that led to a lasting impact on the field of engineering, technology or science. Nominations for the award open in December. It is scheduled to be presented for the first time at the 2022 IEEE Honors Ceremony.

To learn more about Allen’s life and career, you can read an oral history of her conducted by the IEEE History Center in 2001.

Special thanks to IBM for sponsoring this important medal honoring a pioneer in the field. It is thanks to IEEE members, corporations and foundations that the IEEE Foundation is able to invest in IEEE awards and recognitions across IEEE.

Adapted from “New IEEE Medal Named for Computing Pioneer Frances E. Allen,” The Institute in Spectrum Online 08 Jul 2020 by Lynn Frassetti, the senior awards presentation and communications specialist for IEEE Awards Activities. Photo: IBM Research

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