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Software Engineering, Computer Engineering, Computer Science: Sibling Disciplines with Diverse Cultures

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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

Accreditation and Assessment in SE Programs

Tagged Division

Software Engineering Constituent Committee

Page Count


Page Numbers

22.1308.1 - 22.1308.18



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Paper Authors


Susan E. Conry Clarkson University

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Susan E. Conry is Distinguished Service Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering and Director of Software Engineering at Clarkson University. She is also currently the Chair Elect of the EAC of ABET. She received her Ph.D. from Rice University in Electrical Engineering.

Dr. Conry’s research and educational interests cover various areas of computer engineering and software engineering. Her work in multiagent systems has focused on agent negotiation strategies, distributed constraint satisfaction problems, distributed genetic algorithms, and distributed search. Her work related to software engineering is concerned with patterns in hardware/software codesign. Dr. Conry has been designated Fellow of the IEEE, CSAB Fellow, and ABET Fellow. She was also recipient of the 2005 EAB Award for Meritorious Achievement Award in Accreditation Activities.

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Software Engineering, Computer Engineering, Computer Science Sibling Disciplines with Diverse CulturesEvery program of study has an institutional context and it has roots in an intellectual culture thatinforms its character. Its institutional context influences its content, its relationships with otherprograms, and the character of the graduates, among other things. Its intellectual heritageinfluences the shape of its content, the focus of its faculty, and the degrees of freedom students inthe program have. A recent study of the curricula of the 19 software engineering program thatwere accredited as of October 2009 indicated that more than half of these programs were housedin the same department as an accredited computer science program. It also found that there is awide degree of variation in the degree of content overlap between the software engineeringcurriculum and the computer science curriculum. At some institutions, there was as little as onecourse overlap between the two programs while at others there was a very large component thatwas shared. At some institutions, computer science and software engineering shared treatmentof introductory material while others offered even introductory material in the two programs indifferent course sequences. This evidence suggests that there may be well be interestingdimensions of commonality and difference among programs in a broader range of areas that weretreated by the Computing Curricula 2005 documents.This paper extends the previous study to the consideration of interrelationships among thecurricula of computing programs at a subset of institutions with accredited software engineeringprograms in October 2010. The subset treated includes only those institutions with accreditedsoftware engineering programs at which there are also programs in computer science andcomputer engineering and does not address other computing disciplines such as informationtechnology, information systems, or management information systems. There are 14 suchinstitutions. Of these institutions, the majority (9) involve institutional contexts in which all ofthe responsible departments are in the same school or college. Within these 9 institutions, somelodge all three of the disciplines (computer science, software engineering, and computerengineering) in the same department while others house them in different departments. At 3 ofthe institutions, computer science is lodged in a school that has no engineering programs. Theremaining two institutions either do not have an administrative structure equivalent to a school ora college or have separate colleges of computing and engineering.Interrelationships in a number of dimensions are discussed in this paper: relationships fostered(or enforced) by administrative structure, relationships involving shared faculty among theprograms, relationships involving common sets of required courses, and relationships found indevelopment of specialized tracks within one program that foster strength of preparation in thecomputing areas more strongly associated with another of the disciplines. Those areas that aredistinctive about a given program on a given campus will also be discussed, as they provide justas much insight into the relationships among the programs as areas of commonality do. Theserelationships are viewed through two lenses: the lens of institutional context and the lens ofintellectual heritage.

Conry, S. E. (2011, June), Software Engineering, Computer Engineering, Computer Science: Sibling Disciplines with Diverse Cultures Paper presented at 2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Vancouver, BC. 10.18260/1-2--18924

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