Conforming curricula for software engineers: observations from the Australian experience
American Society for Engineering Education
Faculty of Computing, Health and Science
School of Computer and Information Science
Of the 37 universities in Australia offering undergraduate courses in computing, eleven offer courses in Software Engineering which are accredited by the Institute of Engineers, Australia and which may lead the graduate to membership of the Institute. In this way Australia has seized the initiative in the recognition of Software Engineers as professionals and the Institute has plausible claim to being the first national professional engineering body in the world to have accredited four-year undergraduate software engineering degrees as professional qualifications. Traditionally, undergraduate computer courses in Australia have fallen under one of three headings: Computer Science, Information Systems (or Information Technology) and Computer Systems Engineering. Software engineering, it is well known, fits none of these categories. Furthermore, it is long recognised that the education of practitioners in the emerging field of software engineering would require a different approach to that traditionally applied to computer science. Juggling the concurrent requirements of duration and content has required a reshaping of curricula. It is this curricular restructuring which attracted the attention of the authors who instituted a survey of the eleven universities involved in the education of potential professional Software Engineers which has produced graphical evidence confirming the distinct and individual nature of SE as a discipline and demonstrated the willingness of tertiary education institutions to respond to the needs of that discipline. This paper reports on moves in Australia towards the recognition of software engineering as a bona fide profession in its own right and presents the results of the survey showing the changes in curricular definition which have taken place as universities move to support the new discipline.