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Adding Systems Engineering Activities To The Software Curriculum

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2006 Annual Conference & Exposition


Chicago, Illinois

Publication Date

June 18, 2006

Start Date

June 18, 2006

End Date

June 21, 2006



Conference Session

Software Engineering Curriculum Components

Tagged Division

Software Engineering Constituent Committee

Page Count


Page Numbers

11.159.1 - 11.159.13



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Paper Authors


Harry Koehnemann Arizona State University

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Dr. Harry Koehnemann is an Associate Professor in the Division of Computing Studies at Arizona State University where he performs teaching and research in the areas of distributed software systems, software process, and modeling software-intensive systems. Prior to joining ASU in 2001, Harry worked several years as a software architect and software developer on software systems ranging from large enterprise applications to embedded control systems. Harry has also provided training and consulting services in software tools and technologies, software modeling, and software process.

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Adding Systems Engineering Activities to the Software Curriculum


This paper motivates the need for introducing systems engineering activities into the software curriculum and describes the changes made to an embedded software course to support systems engineering concepts. While still a hotly debated topic, the role of what some consider traditional software techniques are useful and becoming established activities during the systems engineering of large, complex systems. As software engineers play a larger role in the systems engineering activity, understanding those activities and their role in systems engineering are vital for software engineering education.

The addition of systems engineering activities in and embedded software course has led to many successful outcomes. Students understand the approach for solving complex systems. They also observed first hand the benefits of modeling a solution before committing to an implementation. In fact, student remark that once their model is correct, building for the target platform is relatively simple. Finally, the value of showing UML notation and the various diagrams in the context of systems development is vital for students, as these activities are becoming common in the systems engineering community.

1 Introduction

Systems engineering activities are responsible for many decisions in complex systems. They specify the system’s behavior, partition behavior into hardware and software components, define the communication between components, establish the assembly and deployment strategies for components, and specify the associated hardware and software architectures. In practice, systems engineering teams have historically been under-represented by software advocates and their results have been historically weak in areas of software concerns, particularly lifecycle development process, tools, and architecture.

Systems are more commonly selecting off-the-shelf hardware resulting in less need for application-specific hardware solutions and therefore more demand on software specifications. At the same time, system integration responsibilities have become more prevalent, requiring interface and control though means such as networking and the web. For example, the Object Management Group’s (OMG) Common Object Request Broker Architecture (CORBA) is now commonly used to abstract communication across different processors in embedded systems ([1] as an example). In fact, most OMG meetings are now dominated by embedded systems developers in contrast with the information technology (IT) developers who dominated meetings less than a decade ago. Embedded systems are also employing other IT strategies such as web services and enterprise service bus architectures to handle their integration requirements ([2] as an example).

In addition, system size and complexity have changed dramatically over the past several years. While still a hotly debated topic, the role of what some consider traditional software techniques

Koehnemann, H. (2006, June), Adding Systems Engineering Activities To The Software Curriculum Paper presented at 2006 Annual Conference & Exposition, Chicago, Illinois. 10.18260/1-2--1013

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