Miami faculty part of national grant to improve the communication of computer software engineering studentsAug 13, 2010
An interdisciplinary group of faculty from 14 universities is working to improve the communication abilities of computer science and software engineering students this week at Miami University as part of a project funded by an $800,000 grant from the National Science Foundation.
The project, led by faculty at Miami University and North Carolina State University (Raleigh, NC), will create a national model for increasing the computational thinking and communication abilities of computer science and software engineering students by integrating communication instruction and activities throughout their curriculum. New resources developed by the project team will enable faculty to coordinate the communication work across courses in their curricula so that students steadily build their communication abilities as they proceed from introductory to capstone courses.
“Software developers need excellent writing and speaking skills to communicate effectively with clients and each other,” Janet Burge, assistant professor of computer science and software engineering at Miami University explained. “That is why communication should be taught together with technical material, not as a separate topic outside their field.”
Participating universities on the project team are: Chalmers University of Technology (Gothenberg, Sweden), Clemson, Eastern Michigan, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Michigan Technological Institute, Muhlenberg College, Quinnipiac, Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, Tennessee Tech, University of Guelph (Ontario, Canada), University of Central Florida, and the University of Minnesota.
To learn industry’s views of the communication abilities needed by new college graduates with computer-related degrees, the project team met in June with computer professionals from 10 companies, including Fidelity, Microsoft, NetApp, Northrop Grumman, and SAS.
Since then, project team members have worked in six teams to develop assignments and instructional supports for students and faculty. Each team is developing assignments for one of the project’s six target courses that almost every student majoring in computer science and software engineering takes. The courses range from the introductory course for first-year students to the senior capstone course.
Co-principal investigators for the project are Burge, Gerald Gannod, associate professor of CSE, and Paul Anderson, director of the Howe Center for Writing Excellence, all at Miami University, and Mladen Vouk, chair of the computer science department, and Michael Carter, associate dean of the graduate school and director of the Campus Writing and Speaking Program at North Carolina State University.