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M. Brian Blake

Computer scientist and academic administrator M. Brian Blake was born in Savannah, Georgia. He graduated from Benedictine Military Academy in 1989 and then enrolled in the Georgia Institute of Technology where he graduated with his B.S. degree in electrical engineering in 1994. In 1997, Blake earned his M.S. degree in electrical engineering with a minor in software engineering and a graduate certificate in object-oriented analysis and design from Mercer University in Atlanta, Georgia. He went on to earn his Ph.D. degree in information technology and computer science from George Mason University in 2000.

Upon graduation, Blake spent six years in industry working as a software architect, technical lead, and expert developer with companies such as General Electric (GE), Lockheed Martin, General Dynamics, and The MITRE Corporation. Blake joined the department of computer science at Georgetown University in 1999 as an adjunct professor. After being promoted to associate professor in 2005, he became the youngest African American tenured computer science professor. In 2007, Blake was selected to chair Georgetown University’s computer science department, making him the first African American appointed to the position. Blake was then brought on at Notre Dame University in 2009 where he served the Associate Dean of Engineering for Research and Graduate Studies, and as professor of computer science and engineering. Blake was also the first African American tenured professor in Notre Dame’s College of Engineering. In May of 2012, Blake was named Vice Provost for Academic Affairs and Dean of the Graduate School at the University of Miami. His research interests include

Blake has published more than 150 refereed articles and publications in the area of software engineering and the integration of Web-based systems. He served as the Associate Editor-in-Chief of Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Internet Computing, and Associate Editor of IEEE Transactions on Service Computing. In 2006, he was selected to serve on the National Science Foundation Advisory Board for Computer, Information Science, and Engineering. Blake is also a senior member of the IEEE Computer Society.

In 2007, was honored by Diverse: Issues in Higher Education as “One of 10 Emerging Scholars.” He was the creator and founder of the Web Services Challenge, an initiative that evaluates software engineering techniques in the area of web service composition. As an undergraduate at the Georgia Institute of Technology, Blake was initiated in the ANAK Society and received the J. Erskine Love, Jr. Award. In 2003, US Black Engineer and Information Technology magazine and Lockheed Martin recognized him as the “Most Promising Engineer/Scientist in Industry.”

Blake is married to Bridget Blake, a mechanical engineer who earned her M.B.A. from The Johns Hopkins University and now serves as a consultant for The MITRE Corporation. They have two sons: Brendan Blake and Bryce Blake.

Brian M. Blake was interviewed y he HistoryMakers on June 3, 2013.

Accession Number

A2013.139

Sex

Male

Interview Date

6/3/2013

Last Name

Blake

Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

Brian

Schools

George Mason University

Mercer University

Georgia Institute of Technology

Benedictine Military School

Shuman Middle School

Eli Whitney Elementary

First Name

M.

Birth City, State, Country

Savannah

HM ID

BLA15

Favorite Season

Fall

State

Georgia

Favorite Vacation Destination

New York, New York

Favorite Quote

Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much, because they live in a gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat. - Theodore Roosevelt

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Florida

Birth Date

10/13/1971

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Coral Gables

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Pudding (Bread)

Short Description

Computer scientist and academic administrator M. Brian Blake (1971 - ) joined the faculty of Georgetown University in 1998, and went on to become the youngest African American tenured computer science professor and the first African American to become chair of the computer science department. He was also the first African American tenured professor in the College of Engineering at the University Notre Dame.

Employment

University of Miami

University of Notre Dame

Georgetown University

MITRE Corporation

Cleared Solutions

Lockheed Martin

General Electric Company

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of M. Brian Blake's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - M. Brian Blake lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - M. Brian Blake describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - M. Brian Blake talks about his mother's growing up in Estill, South Carolina

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - M. Brian Blake talks about his mother's entrepreneurial skills and her influence on him

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - M. Brian Blake describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - M. Brian Blake describes his father's growing up in Estill, South Carolina

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - M. Brian Blake talks about Estill, South Carolina

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - M. Brian Blake talks about how his parents met and married

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - M. Brian Blake talks about his father's entrepreneurship

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - M. Brian Blake describes his parents' personalities and who he takes after

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - M. Brian Blake talks about his siblings

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - M. Brian Blake describes his childhood household

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - M. Brian Blake describes his childhood neighborhoods in Savannah, Georgia

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - M. Brian Blake describes the sights, sounds and smells of growing up in Savannah, Georgia

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - M. Brian Blake talks about attending Townsley Chapel AME Church in Savannah, Georgia

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - M. Brian Blake describes his experience in grade school - part one

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - M. Brian Blake describes the changes in his childhood neighborhood in Savannah, Georgia

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - M. Brian Blake describes his experience in grade school - part two

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - M. Brian Blake describes his experience in grade school - part three

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - M. Brian Blake describes his interest in mathematics in grade school, and his father encouraging him to apply math to entrepreneurial use

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - M. Brian Blake describes his early exposure to computers and programming - part one

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - M. Brian Blake describes his early exposure to computers and programming - part two

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - M. Brian Blake describes his experience in middle school

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - M. Brian Blake describes his experience at Benedictine Military Academy in Savannah, Georgia - part one

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - M. Brian Blake describes his experience at Benedictine Military Academy in Savannah, Georgia - part two

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - M. Brian Blake talks about his preparation in computer science in high school and his decision to major in electrical engineering at Georgia Tech

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - M. Brian Blake talks about graduating from high school and his extracurricular activities there

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - M. Brian Blake talks about his growth spurt in high school, and running track

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - M. Brian Blake talks about his parents attending his track meets

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - M. Brian Blake talks about attending a minority introduction to engineering program at Purdue University and his decision to attend Georgia Tech

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - M. Brian Blake describes his experience at the Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech)

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - M. Brian Blake talks about his mentors at the Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech) and his experience as a research assistant

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - M. Brian Blake talks about his undergraduate research experience at the Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech)

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - M. Brian Blake talks about graduating from Georgia Tech as a member of the ANAK honor society

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - M. Brian Blake describes his decision to pursue the Edison Engineering Program at General Electric

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - M. Brian Blake describes his experience of working as a software engineering consultant at Lockheed Martin and also pursing his master's degree

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - M. Brian Blake describes his experience at Mercer University

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - M. Brian Blake describes his experience of pursuing his Ph.D. degree at George Mason University while working on a full-time job

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - M. Brian Blake describes his decision to become a professor at Georgetown University

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - M. Brian Blake describes his Ph.D. dissertation on workflow models, and his relationship with his mentor, Skip Ellis

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - M. Brian Blake describes the impact of his Ph.D. dissertation on workflow models

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - M. Brian Blake describes Workflow Automation through Agent-based Reflective Processes (WARP) and its applications

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - M. Brian Blake talks about his mentor at George Mason University, Professor Hassan Gomaa

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - M. Brian Blake describes his experience at Georgetown University

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - M. Brian Blake talks about serving as an expert witness

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - M. Brian Blake describes his experience working for MITRE Corporation

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - M. Brian Blake talks about his involvement in mentoring

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - M. Brian Blake talks about serving as the lead software process consultant for the Imaging Science and Information Systems Research Center

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - M. Brian Blake describes his experience as an administrator at Georgetown University

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - M. Brian Blake talks about Workflow Automation through Agent-based Reflective Processes (WARP) and working with the Department of Justice

Tape: 6 Story: 10 - M. Brian Blake talks about his involvement with the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE)

Tape: 6 Story: 11 - M. Brian Blake talks about Beverly Magda at Georgetown University

Tape: 6 Story: 12 - M. Brian Blake describes how he was hired as a professor of computer science and engineering at the University of Notre Dame in 2009

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - M. Brian Blake describes his experience at the University of Notre Dame

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - M. Brian Blake describes his decision to become the vice provost for academic affairs and dean of the graduate school at the University of Miami

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - M. Brian Blake describes his experience at the University of Miami

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - M. Brian Blake describes his research focus in the area of service-oriented computing and cloud computing

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - M. Brian Blake talks about the cutting edge in computer science

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - M. Brian Blake describes his research collaboration with HistoryMakers Ayanna Howard and Andrew Williams

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - M. Brian Blake talks about his career goals for the future

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - M. Brian Blake reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - M. Brian Blake reflects upon his career

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - M. Brian Blake discusses his goals for the University of Miami

Tape: 8 Story: 3 - M. Brian Blake describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 8 Story: 4 - M. Brian Blake talks about his family

Tape: 8 Story: 5 - M. Brian Blake talks about the University of Miami's football team

Tape: 8 Story: 6 - M. Brian Blake talks about starting a bank account at the age of eleven, buying his first house, and the importance of financial management

Tape: 8 Story: 7 - M. Brian Blake talks about how he would like to be remembered

DASession

1$1

DATape

3$6

DAStory

2$1

DATitle
M. Brian Blake describes his early exposure to computers and programming - part one
M. Brian Blake describes Workflow Automation through Agent-based Reflective Processes (WARP) and its applications
Transcript
One of the interesting things I did, when I was in fifth grade, my dad [Malworsth Blake] bought this Apple IIe. It was one of the early MacIntosh, one of the early Apple machines. He said--he was so excited, he was like I'm going to use this to do all my accounting, it's going to save me time and all this stuff. I think he might have got on that thing maybe two months, before it started collecting dust. And we had a converted garage into a family room, so in fifth grade, I just picked it up and basically just started writing programs on it. I think by the time that I graduated from--we had a different machine by then, but by the time I was kind of in high school, I had hundreds of programs I'd written on that machine.$$Now, how did you get started with writing programs for an Apple IIe. Now, this is in the garage. Now, there's a missing part of this story, you just picked up and just started writing programs?$$I'll tell you the background. So the Apple IIe was there, and then I, in fifth grade, it had a couple of games on it, you could make these small programs to add things. The basic--it's interesting, the programming for Windows machine, it has like this DOS, very kind of rudimentary programming language, if you will, as the basic underneath the operating system. Those early machines, they just had basic programming language. So the programming language was actually the operating system language. So if your basic was the first programming language, most people learned it was kind of C, C++, basic, was just the foundation. So you could write small programs right from the command line on those Apple IIes. And I wrote a couple of things, I kind of add two numbers together and things like that. But how I really learned to program on that was that it had a couple of games on it and they were not games like we would know them today.$$What were the games?$$Yeah. Breakout was on there, which was like a bar and a couple of balls, and then it had other--so it had, what was it called, Westward Ho was a game on there. Most of the games were text-based. So this was a game that you had to move across the country with a lot of goods. It was kind of like a simulation, if you will, but you could decide what you were going to bring and what you're going to--it was kind of those societal games. There was another game on there that was a computer simulation for stocks. So you can-- another simulation of you had to make choices about what stocks to buy and what particular time, and the simulation would run, and you could actually grow different things. So, and I played those games, only a couple of those. So, you know, I got excited about games and particularly about, and these weren't like the games, like I said, this was not WE or Nintendo, or anything like that, these were like kind of text-based games, if you will. So I subscribed to, I think it was called PC Computing or PC World, it was a magazine. So back then, if you remember it, they had disk drives that were relatively new. They used to have a disk drive where the disk was about the size of a sheet of paper and then about the time I got on the machine, the disk was the size of--it was five and a quarter, so it was kind of like this size. (indicating) So, and those disk couldn't hold--they could hold some programs, but not so much. So what you would do is, you would order the magazine, and the magazine would come with all the programming language in it, and you'd have to type in the program line by line, and then you'd have the game. So that's kind of how you got--you could either buy it or you could actually subscribe to a magazine that would actually give you games.$$How did you get acquainted with PC World Magazine, was that at school?$$I guess so. I'm trying to think when--I started subscribing to that in fifth grade. My fifth grade was early for computers back then. Now, it's not so early. But I think I must have seen it somewhere. There was another buddy of mine in the neighborhood who also--I actually had Apple IIe and he had the Radio Shack version, it was a Tandy TR80, he had the other computer. So he and I would go back and forth about how you would do it. Probably some interaction there, we discovered the magazine. And once I got that, I think how I started learning the programs, I'd write this coding in, I knew nothing about what was going on, and then what would happen would be over time, it was all basic language, over time I'd begin to pick up what things mean. And the reason why you'd have to is because you're going to make mistakes when you type it in, and it wouldn't work, and you had to try to figure out--you could go line by line, but sometimes the program would be written wrong in the--so you would receive it wrong, so you couldn't get it to work because there was some error in it, so over time you would begin to realize, okay, I think I've caught all the errors, so it must be something else. And you begin to see some of the things that are breaking down, and you begin to read it a little closer, so it's almost--I think that's how people can pick up other languages, too. They watch TV and they look at text and over time, if you look at the subscripts that show on TV over time, you can kind of pick up what the language means because you're kind of comparing what happens to what's being said. And that was very similar for me, how I learned BASIC language basically through that, and over time, I just got better and started doing that.$Tell us about WARP [Workflow Automation through Agent-based Reflective Processes], I think we mentioned it in general, but not specifically?$$Right. So, WARP was this notion of--I think the acronym stands for Workflow Oriented Agent Base Reflective Processes is what it stood for, but the idea was--it was actually intelligent software using agents that could--reflective being that it could look--it could introspect on software that already exist and try to connect it into workflow automatically. So it was a--it really was sort of an expert system, if you will, that could actually assess already written code and develop workflows from that code. It was about I think it was like 15 or 20,000 lines of code I wrote during my dissertation, and it was really foundational to my early work. One of the interesting things about being a software engineer and being sort of self-proclaiming expert at programming was that when you do your dissertation you have all this theoretical stuff, you could actually--I could write my own software to kind of do a proof of concept and WARP was that proof of concept. And as I said later it extended to any number of projects that we had. We had a project with the Federal Aviation Administration where it actually served air traffic control data, had a project that served date through neuro informatics(sp) through the National Institute of Mental Health. We had another project where I used it for image guided surgery so the theory behind actually integrating the workflow and some of the modules we developed later, you know, based on that initial module were using any number of applications.$$Okay.