Home > Articles > Programming

My Life in Tech: A Q&A with Grace A. Lewis of the Software Engineering Institute at Carnegie Mellon University

Grace A. Lewis discusses the work she's doing as part of the Edge-Enabled Tactical Systems (EETS) research team at the Software Engineering Institute.
Like this article? We recommend

InformIT: What do you do as the technical lead for the Edge-Enabled Tactical Systems (EETS) research team at the Software Engineering Institute?

Grace A. Lewis: The focus of the EETS team is to leverage mobile technologies to enhance the manner in which people operate in tactical environments. As the technical lead I work with the team to create mobile solutions that can make an impact for people in the field and that we can transition to organizations that are willing to incorporate our ideas and prototypes into operational systems.

InformIT: Can you tell us more about what Edge-Enabled Tactical Systems are, and what the SEI is doing with them?

Grace: The term tactical edge is used as a reference to the edge of a connected network, which is where soldiers and first responders operate. We are currently working on mobile solutions so that people at the edge can execute their missions better, by providing ways they can access critical data even in situations of intermittent network connectivity, discover and leverage nearby resources to enhance handheld and sensor device capabilities, use context awareness as a way to reduce cognitive load and conserve resources on the mobile device, perform complex data analyses as a mission progresses, and rapidly deploy all these solutions in the field.

InformIT: Most people don’t think of “cloud computing” and “war zone” in the same sentence, but that’s one of your areas of research – using the cloud to extend battery life and reduce vulnerabilities in hostile environments. Can you tell us more about your work in this area and what applications it might have in non-hostile areas?

Grace: Hostile does not necessarily refer to a war zone; it refers to environments that are not friendly in terms of resources and environmental conditions, such as those experienced by first responders in natural disaster zones or medics providing care in impoverished regions. Our work in this area is based on cloudlets – which are discoverable servers located in single-hop proximity of mobile devices that use them – on which mobile can offload expensive computation such as speech recognition, face recognition, air quality analyses, image analysis, or the analysis of any data that is sensed or captured in the field. This not only saves battery life but also extends the computing power of mobile devices.

InformIT: Which of your initiatives at the SEI are you are most excited about?

Grace: I lead a project titled “Cyber-Foraging in Resource-Constrained Environments.” The goal of the project is to move cloud computing to the edge by leveraging the technologies and concepts behind public and private clouds today, such as virtualization, elasticity and scalability, but being able to do it in the field with the use of cloudlets. The key at the edge is not only being able to offload computation, but also to keep providing these offloaded capabilities in the face of adversity. This requires an architectural approach that focuses on creating solutions that promote qualities such as survivability, resilience, trust, and ease of deployment.

InformIT: What are some of the most interesting challenges facing the field of mobile computing today?

Grace: I believe the real challenges in mobile computing do not come from everyday use; they come from being able to use mobile devices in situations where you do not have total control over the environment, such as at the edge, or where the environment is constrained in terms of resources, such as impoverished regions where mobile devices are the only form of technology and communication with the world. Creating mobile solutions that adapt to all these constraints is full of challenges and research opportunities where you can also make a huge impact.

InformIT: Tell us about your co-authorship of Modernizing Legacy Systems: Software Technologies, Engineering Processes, and Business Practices. How did the book come about, and what was your role in it?

Grace: That was a long time ago! At the time we were doing some very interesting customer work related to modernizing legacy systems, and we all thought that it would be a great idea to write down all that we were learning and implementing. We codified our process as the framework for the book content and divided up the chapters according to our areas of expertise. It was a lot of fun and it was also when I discovered that I loved writing.

InformIT: Your book shows how to implement a successful modernization strategy and describes specifically a risk-managed, incremental approach. How has this process evolved since you published the book in 2003?

Grace: It’s funny because I still find people that tell me that they use the book in their courses or at work. I believe that the key was that we proposed a generic process that could be instantiated with any number of technologies and simply used our experience and selection of technologies as a case study that ran throughout the book to explain the concepts. That’s actually the key in software engineering — to be able to define processes that can then be adapted to the particular culture and technologies of an organization, while maintaining the essence, rigor, and value of the process.

InformIT: Why did you pursue a B.S. in systems engineering at Icesi University in Colombia? Did you have any specific motivation or mentors who encouraged you to enter this field?

Grace: I am a first generation American. My parents came to the United States in the 1960s like many immigrants looking for the American dream. Unfortunately, my parents divorced when I was 17, a junior in high school, and the decision was to move to Colombia to live with my Mom’s family. Systems engineering in Colombia is a very challenging major that combines computer engineering, computer science and information systems. I felt that it was a really good match for me because I really enjoyed computers and programming. My first computer science teacher at high school encouraged me to pursue a career in this field because programming came very naturally to me. It was also a field that at the time was hiring lots of people, which to me was also important given our financial situation after my parents’ divorce. 

InformIT: What have been the biggest challenges you’ve had to face in your career?

Grace: How fast the field evolves is a challenge as well as a motivation. It is exciting to be able to work in a field where you learn something new every day, but being a working woman is difficult in any career because you play many roles in life. Not that men don’t do it, but I feel that for women it is much more important to have a healthy life-work balance and we stress more about it.

InformIT: What has been your greatest professional achievement?

Grace: At my last industry job, which was in a university, I was tasked with implementing the university-wide information system which would have to incorporate data from a very old system and also interface with all the existing and new enterprise information systems. It was a wonderful experience to start with the basics of doing all the strategic planning, requirements analysis, design, architecture and finally implementation, starting from a team of one and ending with a team of 10 people that had a full system up and running in 2 years. The core of the system is still working to this day although the technology has evolved.

InformIT: What is the most important advice you’ve ever received?

Grace: That you and your family always come first. When I was younger I thought that my goal in life was to be the CIO of a large company. That has changed completely! My goal in life is to enjoy what I do at work and to be the best that I can, so I can leave work at work and go home enjoy my family without being stressed about work. It takes a lot of discipline but it’s what makes me happy.  

InformIT: What advice would you give to a young person who is interested in getting into software engineering?

Grace: It is a wonderful field that requires a lot of dedication and especially organization to keep up-to-date on the latest technologies but also keep a healthy life-work balance. However, it is a field that is very rewarding because you get to be creative and in the end many people use the software that you design and build.

InformIT: What do you do for fun?

Grace: I do a lot of things for fun. I spend a lot of time with my family. I have a wonderful husband and we have two wonderful children, a 10-year old boy and an 8-year old girl. We enjoy watching movies, playing board games, playing outside when it’s not cold, and ice skating. My husband and I enjoy going to concerts together. And for my “me time” I enjoy making cards and Zumba.

InformIT Promotional Mailings & Special Offers

I would like to receive exclusive offers and hear about products from InformIT and its family of brands. I can unsubscribe at any time.


Pearson Education, Inc., 221 River Street, Hoboken, New Jersey 07030, (Pearson) presents this site to provide information about products and services that can be purchased through this site.

This privacy notice provides an overview of our commitment to privacy and describes how we collect, protect, use and share personal information collected through this site. Please note that other Pearson websites and online products and services have their own separate privacy policies.

Collection and Use of Information

To conduct business and deliver products and services, Pearson collects and uses personal information in several ways in connection with this site, including:

Questions and Inquiries

For inquiries and questions, we collect the inquiry or question, together with name, contact details (email address, phone number and mailing address) and any other additional information voluntarily submitted to us through a Contact Us form or an email. We use this information to address the inquiry and respond to the question.

Online Store

For orders and purchases placed through our online store on this site, we collect order details, name, institution name and address (if applicable), email address, phone number, shipping and billing addresses, credit/debit card information, shipping options and any instructions. We use this information to complete transactions, fulfill orders, communicate with individuals placing orders or visiting the online store, and for related purposes.


Pearson may offer opportunities to provide feedback or participate in surveys, including surveys evaluating Pearson products, services or sites. Participation is voluntary. Pearson collects information requested in the survey questions and uses the information to evaluate, support, maintain and improve products, services or sites, develop new products and services, conduct educational research and for other purposes specified in the survey.

Contests and Drawings

Occasionally, we may sponsor a contest or drawing. Participation is optional. Pearson collects name, contact information and other information specified on the entry form for the contest or drawing to conduct the contest or drawing. Pearson may collect additional personal information from the winners of a contest or drawing in order to award the prize and for tax reporting purposes, as required by law.


If you have elected to receive email newsletters or promotional mailings and special offers but want to unsubscribe, simply email information@informit.com.

Service Announcements

On rare occasions it is necessary to send out a strictly service related announcement. For instance, if our service is temporarily suspended for maintenance we might send users an email. Generally, users may not opt-out of these communications, though they can deactivate their account information. However, these communications are not promotional in nature.

Customer Service

We communicate with users on a regular basis to provide requested services and in regard to issues relating to their account we reply via email or phone in accordance with the users' wishes when a user submits their information through our Contact Us form.

Other Collection and Use of Information

Application and System Logs

Pearson automatically collects log data to help ensure the delivery, availability and security of this site. Log data may include technical information about how a user or visitor connected to this site, such as browser type, type of computer/device, operating system, internet service provider and IP address. We use this information for support purposes and to monitor the health of the site, identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents and appropriately scale computing resources.

Web Analytics

Pearson may use third party web trend analytical services, including Google Analytics, to collect visitor information, such as IP addresses, browser types, referring pages, pages visited and time spent on a particular site. While these analytical services collect and report information on an anonymous basis, they may use cookies to gather web trend information. The information gathered may enable Pearson (but not the third party web trend services) to link information with application and system log data. Pearson uses this information for system administration and to identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents, appropriately scale computing resources and otherwise support and deliver this site and its services.

Cookies and Related Technologies

This site uses cookies and similar technologies to personalize content, measure traffic patterns, control security, track use and access of information on this site, and provide interest-based messages and advertising. Users can manage and block the use of cookies through their browser. Disabling or blocking certain cookies may limit the functionality of this site.

Do Not Track

This site currently does not respond to Do Not Track signals.


Pearson uses appropriate physical, administrative and technical security measures to protect personal information from unauthorized access, use and disclosure.


This site is not directed to children under the age of 13.


Pearson may send or direct marketing communications to users, provided that

  • Pearson will not use personal information collected or processed as a K-12 school service provider for the purpose of directed or targeted advertising.
  • Such marketing is consistent with applicable law and Pearson's legal obligations.
  • Pearson will not knowingly direct or send marketing communications to an individual who has expressed a preference not to receive marketing.
  • Where required by applicable law, express or implied consent to marketing exists and has not been withdrawn.

Pearson may provide personal information to a third party service provider on a restricted basis to provide marketing solely on behalf of Pearson or an affiliate or customer for whom Pearson is a service provider. Marketing preferences may be changed at any time.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user's personally identifiable information changes (such as your postal address or email address), we provide a way to correct or update that user's personal data provided to us. This can be done on the Account page. If a user no longer desires our service and desires to delete his or her account, please contact us at customer-service@informit.com and we will process the deletion of a user's account.


Users can always make an informed choice as to whether they should proceed with certain services offered by InformIT. If you choose to remove yourself from our mailing list(s) simply visit the following page and uncheck any communication you no longer want to receive: www.informit.com/u.aspx.

Sale of Personal Information

Pearson does not rent or sell personal information in exchange for any payment of money.

While Pearson does not sell personal information, as defined in Nevada law, Nevada residents may email a request for no sale of their personal information to NevadaDesignatedRequest@pearson.com.

Supplemental Privacy Statement for California Residents

California residents should read our Supplemental privacy statement for California residents in conjunction with this Privacy Notice. The Supplemental privacy statement for California residents explains Pearson's commitment to comply with California law and applies to personal information of California residents collected in connection with this site and the Services.

Sharing and Disclosure

Pearson may disclose personal information, as follows:

  • As required by law.
  • With the consent of the individual (or their parent, if the individual is a minor)
  • In response to a subpoena, court order or legal process, to the extent permitted or required by law
  • To protect the security and safety of individuals, data, assets and systems, consistent with applicable law
  • In connection the sale, joint venture or other transfer of some or all of its company or assets, subject to the provisions of this Privacy Notice
  • To investigate or address actual or suspected fraud or other illegal activities
  • To exercise its legal rights, including enforcement of the Terms of Use for this site or another contract
  • To affiliated Pearson companies and other companies and organizations who perform work for Pearson and are obligated to protect the privacy of personal information consistent with this Privacy Notice
  • To a school, organization, company or government agency, where Pearson collects or processes the personal information in a school setting or on behalf of such organization, company or government agency.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that we are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of each and every web site that collects Personal Information. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this web site.

Requests and Contact

Please contact us about this Privacy Notice or if you have any requests or questions relating to the privacy of your personal information.

Changes to this Privacy Notice

We may revise this Privacy Notice through an updated posting. We will identify the effective date of the revision in the posting. Often, updates are made to provide greater clarity or to comply with changes in regulatory requirements. If the updates involve material changes to the collection, protection, use or disclosure of Personal Information, Pearson will provide notice of the change through a conspicuous notice on this site or other appropriate way. Continued use of the site after the effective date of a posted revision evidences acceptance. Please contact us if you have questions or concerns about the Privacy Notice or any objection to any revisions.

Last Update: November 17, 2020