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Computer science program builds new connection

February 12, 2004

Photo of Barry Levine with studentComputer science students at SFSU will have better opportunities to keep up with changes in the information technology industry, thanks to a new relationship with the American University of Armenia (AUA) launched this academic year.

SFSU and AUA have signed a memorandum of understanding to develop research collaborations, distance education programs and faculty/student exchanges that will better prepare students for working in a globalized industry.

The program will help improve long-distance collaborations, which are a growing trend in the industry according to computer science Professor Barry Levine, who initiated the affiliation.

To survive in this increasingly global market, students need more than the fundamentals of software engineering, said Dragutin Petkovic, professor and chair of Computer Science. "The business is changing, so we need to teach new skills -- how to talk to customers, understand what's needed, design the software architecture and manage the process."

Communication issues, cultural differences in how projects are organized and work and social environments are some of the issues associated with managing projects across different locations, Levine said. Graduate students here and in Armenia will work together on investigating these issues, gaining software project management skills not available in most other computer science programs.

"Graduate students who have understanding of these issues will be very valuable employees,” Levine said.

The universities plan to jointly develop engineering courses on collaborative software development, and to develop expertise in distance learning. "Outsourcing is here to stay,” Levine said. "It's important to figure out how to do it well.”

The Armenian program is a first step toward the department's goal of becoming a leading resource in education in global software engineering methods and processes, said Petkovic. The universities will cooperate on a technical level, he said, but will also experiment with multi-group team development and distance learning techniques, assessing their effectiveness throughout. Together, SFSU and AUA will create "a living lab of global software development."

Established in 1991, the American University of Armenia offers master's degrees in such programs as engineering, business, health sciences and law, in addition to certificate programs and continuing education. AUA is an affiliate of the University of California and has programmatic linkages with Johns Hopkins University, UCLA and UC Berkeley.

The SFSU Computer Science Department serves more than 1,000 undergraduate and graduate students, preparing them for employment as computer specialists in the software development and computer manufacturing industries and for continued study toward advanced degrees. Students are exposed to the fundamentals of computing architecture and computing theory, and focus their studies on the areas of software and system development.

-- Ellen Griffin


San Francisco State University

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Last modified July 27, 2004 by University Communications