News Releases
California State University, Sacramento

Posted: September 7, 1999


Grad Project Tackles Costly Computer Failures


Five computer science graduate students at California State University, Sacramento have completed comprehensive standards for managing large computer projects.

The effort could help reduce the incidence of computer failures, which have cost business and government millions of dollars and years of delay during the last decade. Among the most notable of these failures was in 1997, when California abandoned a $100 million system for collecting child support.

The new "Software Engineering Core of Knowledge" is backed by the Institute for Electrical and Electronic Engineering Computer Society (IEEE-CS), a professional organization of computer engineers and scientists. The group is recognized as one of the foremost computer professional societies in the world and a leader in setting standards for the computer industry.

The student project is developed around IEEE-CS software engineering standards. It spells out the knowledge and skills required of software engineering project managers.

Large computer projects have often proven unwieldy because of the large number of possible configurations. Their sheer size can require the effort of hundreds of contractors, technical personnel and managers. All of this makes them difficult to build and even more difficult to test.

"Unfortunately, there is a serious problem with finishing these projects, and with keeping them on time and within budget," says Kathryn Wendt, the computer science graduate student who headed the project. "There is a tendency not to think through all the costs and ramifications of a software development program. These projects really have to be treated as an engineering project."

John Miles, chair of the computer science department, expects the new standards to be used by state agencies to hire managers for large projects, as well software developers bidding on government contracts.

ion to Wendt, the students involved include Karma Guinn, Ed Perillo, Tim Schoenhard and Jon Wilheilmsen. They all worked under Miles and computer science professor Richard Thayer and are using their work on the standards as a final project for their master's degrees in computer science.

More information is available by contacting the public affairs office at (916) 278-6156 or the computer science department at (916) 278-6834.

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For further information send E-Mail to: infodesk@csus.edu.

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