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Combining Requirements And Interdisciplinary Work

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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 Teaching Methods and Practice

Tagged Division

Software Engineering Constituent Committee

Page Count


Page Numbers

11.332.1 - 11.332.12



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Paper Authors


Eric Durant Milwaukee School of Engineering

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Eric Durant (M’02) is an Assistant Professor in the Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Department at Milwaukee School of Engineering (MSOE). He did his graduate studies at the University of Michigan, receiving the PhD degree in 2002. He teaches courses in both computer and software engineering and does consulting work involving signal processing, genetic algorithms, and hearing aid algorithms.

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

Combining Requirements and Interdisciplinary Work


The author discusses an interdisciplinary approach to helping students learn to write a system requirements specification (SRS). This approach has been refined during use over the last three years and involves students in the first quarter of their junior year. Software engineering students enrolled in a required requirements course act as the requirements team over an eight- week period while biomedical engineering students who are ready to begin the requirements phase of their capstone design project act as clients. Each of the requirements and client teams consists of four to six members. The experience was documented in ASEE conference papers in October of 20041 and June of 20052.

Benefits of the process and its placement in the curriculum include requirements engineers and clients being of approximately equal academic and professional maturity and the clients having done substantial technology and problem domain research but no product design. Additionally, the requirements are written for a real product that the clients will design and implement over the coming 21 months.

This paper discusses methods used to foster this collaboration, including team training given to the software engineers, assignments given throughout the quarter, interim process review meetings with all involved parties, and the development of rubrics for evaluating presentations and the final SRS. Results are presented and discussed, along with a look at student assessment of the course over three years. Finally, conclusions are drawn from the third iteration of this collaboration and future work is discussed.

I. Introduction

The author has recently completed his third year teaching requirements to third-year software engineering (SE) students at Milwaukee School of Engineering. This paper discusses an interdisciplinary teaching process that has been developed over that time period by the author and his colleagues in the SE and biomedical engineering (BE) programs. In brief, realizing that SEs must often develop requirements for products outside of their core expertise, the SE faculty require their students to work with clients who are actually developing a product. Some background information, such as what requirements are and why SEs must be able to develop them, are not covered in the current work; readers interested in these topics are encouraged to see previous papers by the author and his colleagues1, 2.

The purpose of this paper is to present and discuss the process used. To that end, all the key methods applied are presented: (1) introducing the BE client teams to requirements, (2) client team project presentations to the requirements teams, (3) team training, (4) the four assignments, (5) interim general meetings for process review, (6) informal reviews of work in progress, (7) a group presentation rubric, (8) a final report rubric, (9) student self-assessment of course outcomes, and (10) student feedback on the course.

Durant, E. (2006, June), Combining Requirements And Interdisciplinary Work Paper presented at 2006 Annual Conference & Exposition, Chicago, Illinois. 10.18260/1-2--426

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