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Using Vertically Integrated Project Teams to Inspire Studnet Interest in Computing Careers

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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

Software Engineering Projects

Tagged Division

Software Engineering Constituent Committee

Page Count


Page Numbers

22.1653.1 - 22.1653.9



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Paper Authors


Massood Towhidnejad Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Daytona Beach

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Massood Towhidnejad is a tenured full Professor of software engineering in the department of Electrical, Computer, Software and System Engineering at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. His teaching interests include artificial intelligence, autonomous systems, and software engineering with emphasis on software quality assurance and testing. He has been involved in research activities in the areas of software engineering, software quality assurance and testing, autonomous systems, and human factors.

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Thomas B. Hilburn Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Daytona Beach

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Dr. Thomas B. Hilburn is a Professor Emeritus of Software Engineering at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. He has worked on software engineering research and education projects with the FAA, General Electric, the Harris Corp, the MITRE Corporation, DOD, FIPSE, the SEI, the NSF, the ACM and the IEEE Computer Society. His interests include software processes, object-oriented analysis and design, formal specification techniques, and curriculum development, and he has published over 60 papers in this these areas. He is an IEEE Certified Software Developer, SEI-Certified PSP Developer, and currently chairs the Curriculum Committee of the IEEE Computer Society Educational Activities Board.

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Joseph E. Urban Texas Tech University

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Gregory W. Hislop Drexel University


Richard Stansbury Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Daytona Beach

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Richard S. Stansbury is an assistant professor of computer science and computer engineering at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, FL. His current research interests include unmanned aircraft, certification issues for unmanned aircraft, mobile robotics, and applied artificial intelligence. At Embry-Riddle, his teaching activities include the capstone senior design course for computer and software engineers. He received his B.S. and M.S. degrees in Computer Engineering (2002 and 2004 respectively) and Ph.D. in Computer Science (2007) from the University of Kansas. As a graduate research assistant, he developed autonomous ground vehicles for operation in Greenland and Antarctica.

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Using Vertically Integrated Project Teams to Inspire Student Interest in Computing Careers The precipitous decline in students majoring in computing degree programs has stopped, butno adequate recovery is in sight. The most recent numbers available show about 62,000 newcomputing graduates for a market estimated by the Department of Labor to require over 150,000new entrants each year. Attracting students in the computing field has always been a major challenge. Factors suchas the geek image, a demanding mathematical foundation, the lack of a “gee wiz” element earlyin the curriculum, and the dot com bust are all contributors to this problem. However, attractingstudents is only a first step. Maintaining student interest is also difficult. This paper describes aNSF-funded project that is exploring vertically integrated teams as a way of inspiring studentinterest in computing. This project is focused on undergraduate computing education. The central tenet of theproject is that computing education will benefit by engaging students in hands-on, team-basedprojects much earlier in their education. The excitement of student teams working on capstonedesign projects is commonly observed. The goal of this project is to let much less experiencedstudents see and share in that excitement based on their skill levels. Advanced undergraduates working on capstone design projects are at the center of theproject. The capstone experience will be shared with less experienced students by teamingadvanced undergraduates with beginning undergraduates. This teaming will be designed tobenefit both the beginning and advanced students. The core focus on undergraduates would be extended in several directions. Activities will beextended to pre-college students and their teachers in grades 6-12. The project will exploreactivities appropriate for these students along with creating opportunities for personal interactionbetween pre-college students and advanced undergraduates. The project will also extend upwardsto include participation by computing professionals and graduate students. This approach willprovide added value for the advanced undergraduates and help ensure that the overall effort is inline with needs of future employers, as well as give a positive image for continuing on to graduateschool. This paper presents the project concepts and goals, and discusses the implications forundergraduate computing education. The paper also provides an overview of initial activities andresults.

Towhidnejad, M., & Hilburn, T. B., & Urban, J. E., & Hislop, G. W., & Stansbury, R. (2011, June), Using Vertically Integrated Project Teams to Inspire Studnet Interest in Computing Careers Paper presented at 2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Vancouver, BC. 10.18260/1-2--18927

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