Degree will bring change to departments


Jana L. Haas

SDSU officials seek to meet a growing demand for software engineers and technologists by adding a software engineering (SE) major to the university’s degree offerings.

Software engineering is the application of engineering concepts, methods, and tools to the development of software systems.

The closest related programs are computer science, electrical engineering,and computer engineering.

Lewis Brown, Dean of Engineering, felt the computer software and hardware program at SDSU was a weakness in the engineering college and said the proposed major will offer students the opportunity to obtain a bachelor of science degree while being closely aligned with the electrical engineering (EE) and computer science programs offered at SDSU.

The addition of the SE degree will bridge the EE and Computer Science programs. Currently, EE and computer science are two separate departments, each with a permanent department head. The three programs will be merged into one department.

The bridge is expected to strengthen all three programs. Emphases in SE or computer engineering are proposed as additions to the existing engineering degrees.

The new department will officially begin July 1 and will have the same face and the same programs.

“Administratively it will be the same department,” said Brown.

There will be one department head with a separate coordinator for each area. The coordinators will be responsible for program assessment, Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET), outreach, summer orientation, and course transfer evaluations.

Computer software is an integral part of nearly all aspects of business, communications, engineering, entertainment, government, industry and science. As the use and demand of new technology grows, the demand for knowledgeable professionals also grows.

SE is the most recently recognized degree accredited by the ABET as it has become a more specialized engineering discipline.

Accreditation came as response to a need for engineers who have more depth in current software engineering applications.

SDSU will seek permission to apply for ABET accreditation after the establishment as soon as the programs are ready.

The curriculum will include core courses from the three areas, technical electives in the student’s defined emphasis, and a two-semester senior design experience in software engineering.

The program will include instruction in discrete mathematics, probability and statistics, computer science, managerial science, and applications to complex computer systems.

Brown anticipates exceptionally strong programs in all three areas of electrical, computer, and software engineering.

“There will be new academic opportunities and professional possibilities for students in all three disciplines,” he said.

The National Center for Education Statistics publishes an index of classification of instructional program (CIP) codes and descriptions.

According to the index, the SE program will prepare individuals to apply scientific and mathematical principles to the design, analysis,verification, validation, implementation, and maintenance of computer software systems using a variety of computer languages.

No SE program is offered in other South Dakota or neighboring-state universities. There are less than 20 SE programs in the United States.