SWECP 2007

4th International Symposium on Software Engineering Course Projects (SWECP 2007)
www.swecp.org/2007

Teaching and Using Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA) in an Academic Environment

Thursday, October 25, 2007 (1:00pm - 4:45pm)
Sheraton Parkway Toronto North Hotel and Convention Centre
Toronto, Canada

Held as part of The 17th International Conference of the IBM Centre for Advanced Studies on Collaborative Research (CASCON 2007: Oct. 22-2,5 2007; Toronto, Canada)



Abstract

Many of today’s software engineering course projects require student to integrate disparate components across a heterogeneous networked infrastructure. Service-oriented architecture (SOA) is a recent evolution in distributed middleware that can be used to accomplish this task. While SOA holds the promise of supporting business needs by closely aligning information technology support, mastering the design, development, and deployment of SOA-based systems places a considerable pedagogical burden on the faculty and students. This symposium will explore how educators and industry can work together to develop efficient and rewarding methods for teaching and using SOA in an academic environment. SWECP 2007 is a sequel to similar events that were held as part of CASCON 2002, 2005, and 2006.

Keywords: software engineering, education, courses, senior design projects, students, SOA

News

Symposium Organizers

Scott Tilley
Department of Computer Sciences
Florida Institute of Technology
stilley@cs.fit.edu

Ken Wong
Department of Computing Science
University of Alberta
kenw@cs.ualberta.ca

Spencer Smith
Department of Computing and Software
McMaster University
smiths@mcmaster.ca

Symposium Description

Service-oriented architecture (SOA) is a recent evolution in distributed middleware. Many of today’s software engineering course projects require student to integrate disparate components across a heterogeneous networked infrastructure using technologies such as SOA. While SOA does hold the promise of successfully accomplishing this task, mastering the design, development, and deployment of SOA-based systems places a considerable pedagogical burden on the faculty and students.

Team-based projects are the cornerstone of many software engineering courses. In these projects, the students learn the importance of topics such as project management and issues of scale that separate software engineering from program development. The focus of such projects is not on learning about a particular technology such as SOA, but on using it as a means to an end. However, this cannot be achieved without a sufficient understanding of the underlying technologies. This means the instructor must carefully balance the time and effort needed to learn about SOA, and the time and effort needed to learn about all other aspects of software engineering required to make the course project a success. This may be particularly difficult to achieve considering the relative complexity of SOA: it requires knowledge that is both broad and deep to be leveraged effectively.

From an industry perspective, many employers often lament that they must provide extensive (re)training to new employees. One of the reasons given for this situation is that the students haven’t learned in school what the company considers to be important. To be sure, there will always be issues specific to the corporation that the new employee must acquire. But for software engineering, it seems odd that the projects students are given during their final years as an undergraduate are usually not indicative of the type of projects they will likely be working on in an industrial setting. This is particularly acute for SOA, since many companies and consultancies are heavily invested in converting legacy systems into valuable corporate assets in the guise of business services.

This symposium will explore how educators and industry can work together to develop a more rewarding educational experience for all stakeholders involved.

Symposium Structure

This will be a half-day event, held in a single room to accommodate the expected 25 participants. The symposium will be structured around a handful of invited presentations from recognized experts in the field, and a panel session involving a selected set of opinion makers from academia, government, and industry. For the panel session, following each brief position statement, the panelists will engage in structured discussion with the rest of the symposium participants. The idea is to foster the exchange of ideas and information in an informal setting, but with some boundaries placed on topics and time to ensure that the symposium is on schedule.

The symposium will provide an opportunity for the exchange of information related to areas including (but not limited to):

A summary document containing the workshop findings will be distributed electronically to registered participants some time after CASCON. For example, for the 2005 and 2006 SWECP workshops, a summary report was published as part of the IEEE CSEE&T 2006 and 2007 conference proceedings, respectively.

Symposium Participation

The people who are likely to participate in the symposium are primarily from academia: lecturers, faculty, and students. The people most interested in this topic will be educators responsible for teaching software engineering classes in a university setting, particularly those who are willing to try new technologies such as SOA in a classroom setting. Students who are intrigued by SOA may also find the discussion of education resources and learning techniques to be of value.

Participation from industrial representatives, particularly those in IT-oriented business consulting (e.g., IBM Global Services), would greatly improve the symposium’s tenor. Many companies offer their own specialized training sessions, sometimes using mock projects that are similar to the projects university students’ experience. They also are early adopters of SOA as a means of leveraging existing legacy assets. It is only through dialog between academia and industry that the improvements can be made to this aspect of the undergraduate curriculum.

There is no requirement for any participant to be actively teaching a software engineering course; we will certainly not exclude anyone from sitting in on part of the symposium. The main requirement is an interest in improving the current situation.