In early July 2007 I was an invited panelists at the Conference for Software Engineering Education and Training, 2007 (CSEET 2007) on "Preparing Students for Software Engineering Research".
Along with these panelists:
Dr. Laurie Williams, North Carolina State University, USA
Mr. Austin Hanley, Head of School of Engineering, Athlone Institute of Technology, Ireland
Dr. Brian O’Donovan, IBM, Blanchardstown, Dublin, Ireland
My discussion points were built around the following point from [Shaw 2000] "Software Engineering Education: A Roadmap" that says:
"Preparation for research, of course, is different from preparation for engineering practice. A researcher needs deeper preparation in underlying principles, in problem formulation, and in validation of results as well as a special kind of inquisitiveness and creativity."
My points included:
- Software Engineering Research is about discovering, interpreting, and revising our knowledge of the field
- I believe that preparation for research in industry can only be achieved in the scope of postgraduate education
- in teaching we should emphasise where current engineering practice fails when teaching it, identify problems as research opportunities
- we should rovide opportunities for summer research internships in 2nd and 3rd year undergrads, such as our ODCSSS program in UCD-DCU
- we should build awareness of open software engineering research issues faced in academic and industrial research labs
- in teaching underlying principles try ideas such as eg. comparative learning (programming, development)
- in teaching problem formulation try to weave learning how to describe a problem (not the solution) into course work
- in teaching validation of results incorporate experimental methods into courses
- to support inquisitiveness provide bottom up support for competitions, clubs, internships, industry prizes
- to support creativity provide scope in all course work to step beyond the practice to discover an alternate approach.
The overall moderator Ita Richardson framed the question as:
"Discussions of software engineering education tend to focus on the needs of industry and the preparation of graduates for professional careers. This is understandable, and may even be appropriate, but what about those who hope to go on to do research in software engineering - how well are we catering for them?"