To pull in harness: industry and universities face educating the professional software engineer
American Society for Engineering Education
Faculty of Computing, Health and Science
School of Computer and Information Science
Computing curricula in Australia have tended to emphasize the scientific and computer engineering side, the hardware side, of computing but the advent of the Professional Software Engineer (PSE) demands new approaches to curricular design. With the Institute of Engineers, Australia, (IEAust) already taking part in establishing the new profession in Australia it is to be expected that educational requirements here for prospective professionals will mirror those for the traditional disciplines. This includes a requirement for a full four-year course including practical work as in traditional engineering courses so that the new discipline can merit the equal status it seeks. Since the graduate PSE will tend to be industrially oriented, a large practical content will be desirable in the course. This, in turn, will not only raise educational issues within academia but also challenge long-held industrial attitudes towards universities, their students and graduates. Employers in the software industry have, historically, been somewhat sceptical of the value of a traditional CS education. Complaints that graduates lack practical competence and that universities pay little attention to the needs of industry have been noted. Indeed, the reputation of academia in industry appears somewhat tarnished, yet only practicing software developers can supply the positions in which potential graduates can undertake their practical training and only experienced software producers can supply that training. If universities are to eschew any ‘ivory tower’ philosophy, design new courses to meet the requirements of engineering registration committees and send undergraduates into industry on practicum, then industrial management must be prepared to undertake the roles this new scenario gives them. This paper looks at the industry/university relationship in Australia and the USA, and the difficulties to be surmounted to produce the necessary atmosphere of trust and teamwork.