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A College-Industry Research Partnership on Software Development for Undergraduate Students

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2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Vancouver, BC

Publication Date

June 26, 2011

Start Date

June 26, 2011

End Date

June 29, 2011



Conference Session

Innovative College-Industry Partnerships for the Future

Tagged Division

College Industry Partnerships

Page Count


Page Numbers

22.21.1 - 22.21.9



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Paper Authors


Ana Elisa P. Goulart Texas A&M University

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Ana Goulart is currently an assistant professor at the Electronics and Telecommunications Engineering Technology Program at Texas A&M. She received her Ph.D. in Electrical and Computer Engineering from Georgia Tech, and a M.Sc. in Computer Engineering from North Carolina State University. Her research interests include protocols for real-time communications, IP telephony, wireless networks, and engineering education.

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Chris Corti, Ph.D. Cisco Systems, Inc.


Matthew Robert Hawkes Cisco

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Manager, Software Engineering at Cisco

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A  College-­Industry  Research  Partnership  on  Software  Development  for  Undergraduate  Students     Ana  Goulart,  Matt  Hawkes,  and  Chris  Corti    Collaboration  means  working  together  for  a  special  purpose.  When  industry  and  academia  collaborate,  their  purposes  may  be  very  different,  e.g.,  academia  focuses  on  education  and  theoretical  research,  and  industry  in  general  focuses  on  products  and  process  efficiency.  Therefore,  it  is  not  easy  for  faculty  members  in  engineering  programs  to  find  collaboration  projects  that  represent  a  win-­‐win  situation  for  both  industry  and  academia.  Such  projects  can  represent  a  major  contribution  to  the  education  of  our  engineering  students.      In  this  paper,  we  present  the  case  of  an  on-­‐going  college-­‐industry  research  partnership  on  software  development  and  testing.  The  students  involved  in  this  partnership  are  undergraduate  students  from  the  electronics  and  telecommunications  engineering  technology  program  at  Texas  A&M.  The  industry  sponsoring  this  partnership  is  the  Unified  Communications  Manager  Team  at  Cisco  Systems.        The  Unified  Communications  Manager  Team  at  Cisco  develops  the  software  for  voice  over  internet  protocol  (VoIP)  systems,  such  as  IP  Private  Branch  Exchange  (PBX)  systems  or  call  managers.  The  faculty  member  from  Texas  A&M  has  expertise  on  the  communication  protocols  used  in  the  VoIP  systems.  Basically,  this  common  area  of  work  helped  on  bringing  these  two  parties  together.      We  started  the  partnership  with  an  initial,  short-­‐term  project  in  which  three  undergraduate  students  conducted  a  usability  study  of  a  new  user  interface  developed  for  the  call  managers.  With  the  new  call  managers  and  IP  phones  in  the  university  ‘s  laboratory,  students  explored,  tested  and  critiqued  the  new  software  that  was  still  under  development.  Moreover,  Cisco  introduced  the  students  and  faculty  to  a  new  project  management  tool  based  on  the  Agile  process,  which  helped  them  define  all  the  requirements  (or  user  stories)  for  this  evaluation  project  and  manage  the  students’  tasks.        This  initial  project  then  resulted  in  a  summer  fellowship  for  the  faculty  together  with  internships  for  three  undergraduate  students.  During  the  summer,  students  and  faculty  worked  on  projects  that  were  a  little  bit  more  involved  into  Cisco’s  software  development  operations.  Still  using  the  Agile  tool  to  manage  the  projects,  students  and  faculty  helped  develop  tools  on  the  area  of  continuous  integration  and  automation.  For  instance,  a  Smart  Regression  tool,    a  code  metrics  collection  application,  and  a  finite  state  machine  drawing  tool  were  developed.      It  was  a  very  challenging  experience  to  both  students  and  faculty.  Also,  the  engineers  at  Cisco  devoted    a  considerable  amount  of  their  time  to  train  the  students.  Consequently,  the  results  were  extremely  positive.  For  the  students,  the  new  skills  and  experience  will  have  a  big  impact  on  their  future  careers.  For  the  faculty,  new  concepts  and  software  tools  will  be  added  to  the  classroom  projects.      For  Cisco,  the  new  tools  have  contributed  to  the  efficiency  of  their  operations.      The  collaboration  will  continue  until  the  end  of  2010.  As  academia  and  industry  establish  a  good  working  relationship,  new  projects  are  being  added  and  new  undergraduate  students  are  joining  the  project.  Currently,  there  are  eight  undergraduates  working  in  this  partnership.  Both  industry  and  academia  have  a  common  long-­‐term  vision,  and  that  is  a  key  point  of  this  on-­‐going  collaboration.    

Goulart, A. E. P., & Ph.D., C. C., & Hawkes, M. R. (2011, June), A College-Industry Research Partnership on Software Development for Undergraduate Students Paper presented at 2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Vancouver, BC. 10.18260/1-2--17303

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