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CSEET 2010: Day 3 - Papers

Notes from the paper presentations on Day 3 of CSEET 2010...

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Arosha K Bandara
11 March 2010

Notes from the paper presentations on Day 3 of CSEET 2010

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Software Engineering Practicum Course Experience

Dodward P. Katz, Carnegie Mellon Silicon Valley (CMU SV), USA

Overall ethos is: Learning by doing, Scenario based.  Students learn through real project work, collaborating in teams to deliver real products.  Faculty members act more like coaches than instructors.

Originally CMU SV was based in "high ceremony" processes (employing CMM, etc.) - but only 16% of students worked in environments that used such pr [removed][removed] ocesses.

Now the programme is more focused on product development, agile methods, short development cycles, enterprise skills.

Student population is mainly ~28years old with 4 years of work experience.  Mostly CS graduates, in full-time work and studying part-time.  However, a full-time version of the programme is also offered.  30-40% of students participate from a distance.

Two career paths - technical, leading to being technical leads or architects; and development management path leads to technology project managers.

Course Objectives: real-world problem exposure, software contract team orientation (i.e., student team acts as an external software contracter for the client organisation)

Pre-course activities:

  • Client Qualification: ensuring the client is willing to work with team directly on at least a weekly basis (maybe more at the early stages).  
  • Project Selection: involves writing a project proposal, student review of available projects, project fair (opportunity for students to ask questions of the clients), preference selection, team assignment.

In order to get clients on-board, suggest that they experiment with it for a short period and study the results.

Course Overview:

  • Course kick-off - logistics, meeting with client, gain understanding of client styles, setting up an engineering notebook (strongly suggested), emphasis on proactivity (make sure you plan for possible problems), getting course alumni to share their experiences.
  • Team Academic Deliverables:  a statement of the work (client needs, work plan, success criteria, schedule for completion), and a final presentation.
  • Individual Academic Deliverables: Individual reflection proposal on the project together with a report.  Proposal describes the topic that they plan to reflect on, the measurements that plan to make to support any conclusions of their reflection.  A final report presents all the 
  • Client Deliverables: to be negotiated with the client.

Client deliverables and satisfaction is worth 50% of the grade.  Remaining marks are split between academic deliverables.

The engineering notebook documents the major decisions made in the project.  Students are not required to do this but it is highly reccomended.

Issues: Intellectual property is major issue in getting real client projects (particularly for part-time students).  It is also tricky to get uniform client feedback using standard questionnaires.


Consistent positive response from both students and clients.  Often there are more client projects than available student teams.

Success stories include some student projects resulting patent applications, conference publications based on individual student reflection activity and student work being integrated into real products.

Arosha K Bandara
15:25 on 11 March 2010 (Edited 15:48 on 11 March 2010)

Capstone Project: From a Software Engineering to an “Informatics” Approach

Hadar Ziv, Sameer Patil, University of California - Irvine, USA

CS At UCI has been taught for about 40 years, first project course was offerred since 1980.  Small group project that involves an external client.

Learning by doing, real-world experience, producing both working code and software engineering deliverables.

Resulting code varies from fully deployable solutions, to proof of [removed][removed] conc [removed][removed] ept prototypes.

Students also gain soft-skills - communication, cooperation, collaboration, co-ordination.

Recently UC Irvine has extended project into larger component of the curriculum that covers the senior year of study.

Student feedback and industry feedback on project is very positive.  

Increased length of project has proportionally increased scope of the projects, number of requirements, effort of grading and assessment (grading has a team component and an individual assessment - peer assessment).

Aspects such as infrastructure setup, team building activities, learning curve (time/effort) have not grown as a result of the increased scope of the projects.  This makes sense that these are fairly fixed time activities.

Disproportionately large growth in areas such as usability engineering, project planning activities, configuration management, testing and validation activities - which is actually a positive since students have the opportunity to do more in these important areas.

Overall experience:

Students and Clients both engage well with HCI/HCC techniques.  Students gain confidence in using the methods and become convinced of their effectiveness in particular contexts.  

Similarly with software engineering, students are able to gain real experience of incremental, iterative development.  Results in students delivering complex software of very high quality.

Challenges include students who decide to do the bare minimum and be a passenger, duration of the project means it is hard for both students and clients to maintain focus/motivation.


Arosha K Bandara
15:30 on 11 March 2010 (Edited 15:49 on 11 March 2010)

Software Engineering Leadership: A Student Initiative to Promote Change Agents in Industry

Jonathan Hartje, Gil Taran, Carnegie Mellon University, USA

One objective of the CMU MSc Software Engineering programme is to produce students who can grow into leadership positions in their organisations.  Part of this is empowering students to become agents of change in their organisation, and also to contribute to the development of the practice of software engineering through their real-world experiences.

Idea is to expose students to examples of best practice, but also give them access to leaders and leadership situations in the real world.  Some of this is covered in project management / people management courses within the programme.  The programme also has a 16-month long project (with a real client) where people are 'thown' together and forced to learn through the experience!

Process in practice is reflective - recognise need for change, plan a course of action, execute the plan of change, evaluate the outcome, reflect on the experience.

Student reflections based on project / people management courses highlights a perception that curriculum is skewed towards theory and it is hard to make an active connection to industry.  Students are convinced of the value of learning how to become agents of change, but are not given opportunity to really do this by the end of the programme.

This resulted in a student led initiative to create a platform which provides students with opportunities to learn how to shape the world around them.  Platform focuses on education, experience and reflection.  Backed by guidance CMU faculty and staff to facilitate interaction with univers [removed][removed] ity systems.  Platform must allow the initiative to be carried on by future cohorts (this is a big challenge!)

Established a Engineering Leadership Initiative steering committee to create and manage the learning platform.  Team resources included a wiki, shared google calendar, MSc Software Engineering blog, weekly meetings to organise events.

Events could be categorised into those that focused on process and tools, experiential (e.g., creative problem solving workshop), alumni reflections, group bonding (Ignite! events - link:

Steering Committee must also plan for transition at the end of the programme, recruiting students who are just starting in the programme and mentoring them.


Students need to be excited about the value gained by activities that have no credit component.

Group overlap is important for smooth transition.

Events need to be fun, but must also have clear learning outcomes relating to leadership and managing change for participants.

Don't just use alumni - reach out through other networks to find visiting speakers.

Arosha K Bandara
16:07 on 11 March 2010 (Edited 16:17 on 11 March 2010)

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