Paul D. Nielsen
Director and CEO
Dr. Paul D. Nielsen is Director and Chief Executive Officer of the Software Engineering Institute (SEI), a Federally Funded Research and Development Center operated by Carnegie Mellon University. The SEI advances software engineering principles and practices through focused research and development, which is transitioned to the broad software engineering community.
The SEI serves as a global leader in process improvement and networked systems survivability. Additionally, the SEI is a key innovator in software architecture, software product lines, interoperability, the integration of software intensive systems, and the increasing overlap of software and systems engineering. The SEI also provides direct support to more than 50 U.S. government agencies in their efforts to efficiently and effectively acquire new software and systems.
Since joining the SEI in August 2004, Nielsen has overseen the development and expansion of the CMMI product suite, its partner network, and CERT—SEI’s network/cyber security efforts—and the growth of the SEI to an organization employing more than 600 employees with operating revenues of $140 million annually. In addition, he has overseen an increase in research activities related to software architecture, complex systems, and cybersecurity to address both present and future challenges. In all areas, he has expanded interactions with key stakeholders, customers and the global software engineering community. In 2012, Dr. Nielsen led the successful spin-off of the mature CMMI product suite into a newly formed commercial organization separte from the SEI.
Prior to his arrival as SEI Director, Nielsen served in the U.S. Air Force, retiring as a major general after 32 years of distinguished service. As commander of the Air Force Research Laboratory at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio for more than four years, he managed the Air Force’s science and technology budget of more than $3 billion annually. He also served as the Air Force’s technology executive officer, determining the investment strategy for the full spectrum of Air Force science and technology activities.
Prior to his command of the Air Force Research Laboratory, Nielsen served as Vice Commander of the Aeronautical Systems Center, the Air Force’s center responsible for developing fighters, bombers, transports, reconnaissance aircraft, training systems, and unmanned aerospace vehicles. Among his previous assignments, he served at the National Security Agency, the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, the Secretary of the Air Force’s Office of Special Projects and the Air Force’s Electronic Systems Center. Nielsen was a military assistant in the Office of the Secretary of Defense and the Commander of Rome Laboratory. He was Operations Chief for the Cheyenne Mountain Operations Center and Director of Plans for the North American Aerospace Defense Command.
In 2010, Nielsen was elected as a member of the U. S. National Academy of Engineering (NAE). He is a Fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) and a Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE). He served as the AIAA President from 2007-2008. He served on the Air Force Scientific Advisory Board from 2006-2010. Nielsen is a member of the Board of Directors for the Hertz Foundation, a non-profit that awards graduate school fellowships in the applied sciences.
- PhD, Physics, University of California, Davis
- MBA, Business, University of New Mexico
- MS, Physics, University of California, Davis
- BS, Physics, US Air Force Academy