June 26, 2011
June 26, 2011
June 29, 2011
College Industry Partnerships
22.21.1 - 22.21.9
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. https://peer.asee.org/17303
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