September, 2000

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Software Engineering Solution in Sight

Two key stakeholders involved in the dispute over the term "software engineering" and how it is to be used in Canada's undergraduate university community have joined forces to reach a lasting settlement.

The accreditation bodies of the Canadian Council of Professional Engineers (CCPE) and the Canadian Information Processing Society (CIPS) have formed a task force to consider the feasibility of establishing mutually acceptable criteria and a process for the accreditation of undergraduate-level software engineering programs. One option that could be explored by the task force is creation of a new accreditation board with members drawn equally from the two accreditation bodies, the Canadian Engineering Accreditation Board (CEAB) and the Computer Science Accreditation Council (CSAC). The task force's goal is to identify an accreditation process which ensures that accredited software engineering programs meet both CEAB and CSAC standards.

The task force was expected to complete its deliberations by late August, in time for its recommendations to be considered in the context of the final report of the Panel on Software Engineering. The latter was created earlier this year by CCPE and the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada to advise on the use of the term "software engineering" in the Canadian undergraduate university community. The panel already has indicated its support for the creation of a new accreditation body for software engineering programs.

"The establishment of this task force gives the engineering and computer science communities the opportunity to work together towards a mutually acceptable resolution of this important issue," said CIPS National President Faye West, I.S.P. "CIPS believes that computer science departments will be able to continue their important role in the software engineering field. This joint accreditation process will allow graduates to meet the standards of the I.S.P., the only specific IT professional designation available in Canada."

Dr. Peter King, I.S.P. , CSAC's chair, and Eric Norris, P.Eng., CEAB's chair, will co-chair the task force, which also includes two members each from the Panel on Software Engineering, CEAB and CSAC.

"Establishing mutually acceptable criteria and an accreditation process that conforms to the high standards of both CEAB and CSAC offers a win-win solution for all interested parties," said CCPE Chairman CCPE Noel Cleland, P.Eng. "Adopting mutually acceptable criteria would eliminate our concern that students and the public may be confused by the use of the term software engineering to describe non-engineering programs. In addition, graduates of accredited software engineering programs would meet the academic qualifications to register as professional engineers. We are very pleased to be working cooperatively with CIPS and CSAC in this regard."

Founded in 1958, CIPS is the voice and champion of the Canadian information technology (IT) profession. As Canada's largest association of IT professionals, CIPS represents the interests of IT professionals to industry and government. Through the volunteer efforts of its members, CIPS sets standards within the IT profession. Two of the main programs are the certification of individual IT practitioners (the I.S.P. designation) and the accreditation of computer science programs in Canadian colleges and universities. CCPE is the national organization of the provincial and territorial associations/ordre that regulate the profession of engineering in Canada and license the country's 157,000 professional engineers.

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