Learning the language of global software projects

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Posted October 8, 2013

Software engineering students at the University of Adelaide are joining with students from 10 other universities around the world in a unique learning exercise to build a software program across time, language and cultural barriers.

The 15 third-year students in the School of Computer Science are the first Australian students involved in the global project led by Professor Bertrand Meyer, a world leader in the field of programming and Chair of Software Engineering at ETH Zurich in Switzerland.

The University of Adelaide students will work with teams of up to 20 students from Switzerland, Italy, Spain, Egypt, Russia, Argentina, Brazil and Greece on a ‘Distributed and Outsourced Software Engineering’ (DOSE) project.

“DOSE projects are those where the team members are not in the same location (distributed) and delivered by organisations and individuals outside the commissioning company (outsourced),” says Computer Science lecturer Dr Claudia Szabo.

“Distributed software development is becoming increasingly common in the industry but it presents many challenges – time differences and setting up and organising meetings in a global setting; language and cultural and other communication barriers; and overcoming tool issues, for example Google Doc cannot be used in China.

“For the students, it will be a major feat to define and bring together a software program using code that’s been created by different team members around the world. They will also have the challenge of ensuring the tasks are completed when they have no control over those who are doing the work.”

The project is part of the student’s Semester 2 studies this year, representing 20% of their final mark. Each team will develop the software for a computer game.

“This is a fantastic learning opportunity for our students,” says Dr Szabo. “It will help them gain in-depth knowledge about team and software management.

“They will learn how to manage and participate in large software projects and how to overcome these sorts of global and team challenges. This will help set them up for their future careers in a global software engineering industry.

“This sort of experience just can’t be gained in a traditional curriculum.”

Source: University of Adelaide

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