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Omen: An Online Grader For Engineering Programming Courses

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2004 Annual Conference


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 20, 2004

Start Date

June 20, 2004

End Date

June 23, 2004



Conference Session

Web Education I: Delivery and Evaluation

Page Count


Page Numbers

9.955.1 - 9.955.8



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Paper Authors

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Thomas Walker

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Joseph Goodman

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

Session 1120

OMEN: An Online Grader for Engineering Programming Courses T.D.L. Walker, J.K. Goodman Engineering Fundamentals Division1 Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University


OMEN (Online Materials Education Network) is a system developed within the Engineering Fundamentals (EF) Division at Virginia Tech for the distribution and grading of programming projects in courses where programming assignments are made in C++ or Fortran 90. It can be used to distribute and grade programming projects in any language that supports command line compilation, linking, and execution from within a LINUX environment. The system was developed using “free” software operating systems, languages, database systems, and chat/collaboration facilities wherever possible. The system has been used by the Division for the past six semesters to provide grading for over 2000 students, each submitting up to 14 different programming projects with multiple submission opportunities and “instantaneous” grading. Continuous improvements have been made to the system throughout that time.

This paper will describe the OMEN system in detail, its strengths and weaknesses, how and why it was developed, and how it is used. The paper will also discuss lessons learned during development, how they have impacted continued improvement and teaching, and goals for future versions.


The EF Division at Virginia Tech advises and instructs approximately 1250 new freshmen engineering students each year. Since 1984, these students have been required to have their own IBM compatible personal computers and, for several years, all dorm rooms have had high-speed Internet connectivity. The VT College of Engineering has no large “computer labs” for computer instruction.

The instruction component of the EF tasks is accomplished primarily using a required two course sequence (2-credit hours each). Prior to the fall of 1998 approximately one-third of the first course was programming language instruction (most recently, Fortran 90). During a complete review of the first year curriculum, the decision was made to drop the programming instruction material from the first course and to teach whatever computer programming language(s) the other engineering departments desired in separate courses. This resulted in a 1-credit hour Fortran 90 course (EF 2324) and a 2-credit hour C++ course (EF 2314). The Electrical and Computer Engineering Department decided to offer its own 3-credit C++ course (ECE 1574). Some departments dropped the programming language component from their curriculum completely.

Walker, T., & Goodman, J. (2004, June), Omen: An Online Grader For Engineering Programming Courses Paper presented at 2004 Annual Conference, Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--13436

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